Common Ground: Inner potato — Spud tendencies take root

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham This pike marks the end of the ice-fishing derby for Christine Cunningham, and the beginning of a day of potato growing.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham
This lake trout marks the end of the ice-fishing derby for Christine Cunningham, and the beginning of a day of potato-tendency  farming.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

My eyes were puffy, my lips were chapped and my skin was wind-burned. The past month had been a fishing gauntlet, whether it was for the ice-fishing derby or just for fun. All that was left was for me to catch a pike, and when it hit my lure, I yanked up the little crocodile without so much as a fight. It was 8 a.m., and the next thing I knew I had entered my catch in the derby and was at home with plenty of day to spare.

It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think it through. I could have kept fishing, for instance. I could have taken fish photos. I could have smelled a proverbial rose. Instead, no sooner was my fish out of the water, my camp chair was folded, my shanty collapsed and all my gear, tackle and fishing partner were thrown into the sled. I charged across the lake as if it were my morning drive to work. I don’t know how I arrived at home, but somewhere along the way, I’d picked up a latte and a muffin.

My behavior reminded me of a grocery store clerk I met once. He had a ribbon on his apron that showed he was the fastest grocery checker in the store. He told me that he was trying to beat his personal best record. My groceries flew across the scanner faster than I’d ever seen them scanned before. Often, he was so fast that the scanner did not pick up the bar code. My cart-full of groceries was scanned in under a minute, only cost $27.98 and dripped egg yolks.

My focus on quantity wasn’t as intentional as his and, in my case, someone else would likely win the award, but once my mind locked onto catching five species of fish and I’d already caught four, the last fish had to be caught. Little else mattered.

Sure, they all had to be cleaned and eaten, but that could come later. Now it was later. The derby was over, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. There were no awards for doing laundry or the dishes.

About an hour passed and I was still sitting in my office chair. Someone had eaten my muffin. What do I do with myself, I thought. It seemed like the best thing to do was take an online quiz, “What is Your Inner Potato?” The test had gained some criticism by professional psychologists and, having taken it, I tended to agree. There was no way I was a hearty, delectable and versatile pasta. My inner potato was closer to a fast-food french fry.

My dogs stared at me as if to say, “Why are you in the house and not out fishing?”

I didn’t have a good answer.

“Mom is being a couch potato,” I said.

It was still a decent day outside, but the problem with my particular kind of potato is that it does not reheat well.

Being English setters, my dogs like to gather around to hear a lesson about life every now and then. “Today,” I said, “the lesson is ‘How to be the Potato You Were Meant to Be.’ If you’re not meant to hang around the house doing laundry, for instance, then you should probably not rush home after you’ve caught your first and only fish of the day. That would be, to put it in dog terms, like peeing all of your pee on one hydrant.”

Winchester told me I was mixing metaphors.

What they really wanted was to go outside. Eventually, my need for a change in scenery won out, and I took my little tater tots for a walk. Potatoes can’t stay in cool dark places forever. They do have eyes, after all.

Christine Cunningham was born in Alaska and has lived on the Kenai Peninsula for the last 20 years, where she enjoys fishing, hunting and outdoors recreation. Her book, “Women Hunting Alaska,” was released by Northern Publishing. She can be reached at For up-to-date information on the “Women Hunting Alaska” book, visit Northern Publishing online or Women Hunting Alaska on Facebook.


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Filed under fishing, outdoors, recreation, winter

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