Voices from the River: Superstition in a carafe

By Eric Booton

An apple fritter and a cup of Wildman’s Blend before fishing the Kenai River, that’s my thing.  

I know I am not the only fly fisher that dabbles in at least a mild amount of superstition. When it comes to having a good day on the water, why risk skipping any potential good luck charms that have worked in the past? 

 A hot cup of coffee to enjoy while launching the boat and a sweet morsel packed with calories so that I can put off lunch as long as possible. I don’t want it; I need it. If I don’t get it, the day is shot, I might as well go home.  No chance of luck on the Kenai. Of course, I don’t exactly have the quantitative data to back up such claims but the qualitative evidence clogs my memory banks.  

Walking into my morning stop for my routine beverage and pastry, my heart sinks like the disappointment of a lost toad of a trout as my eyes catch, decipher, and shudder at the fresh sign, newly posted near the entrance of Cooper Landing’s famed Wildman’s. 

“Now Serving Black Cup—Extraordinary Coffee, best served black.” 

An audible, “What the…?!” slipped out of my mouth as I pick up the pace to survey the potential damage this sign implies. I frequent this establishment for the Wild Men’s Blend, an affordable cup of java best served with a dash of cream and in mass quantities, not the artisan roast I casually sip during meetings in the urban metropolis of Anchorage. 

Two frantic leaps and I am up the stairs. A passionate push sends the screen door a full 180 degrees into the rack of Alaska themed tourist hoodies. I do not flinch or apologize. There are more pressing issues at hand.   

I skirt the checkout line crowding the entrance, round the displays of Chapstick, playing cards, single servings of Benadryl, razor blades etc., and get eyes on the row of carafes. The vessels of goodness and dispensers of steaming, hot and fresh coffee. Nothing out of the ordinary here, time for a closer inspection. 

The moment of truth nears. It may only be approximately three average paces from the spinning racks of all things random to the coffee bar but this quick pit stop was beginning to resemble a quest. I approach my carafe of choice and read the familiar laminated but soaked and stained sign "Wildman's Blend—Medium Blend."   

My faith in the day has been restored!  I opt for the 20-ounce cup. This is a moment to celebrate, add a dash of cream and fill'er up.  As I approach the register I survey the selection of apple fritters, pick the winner and lightly toss it next to my coffee.   

With one victory already under my belt, I can't wait to see what the rest of the day holds.

Eric Booton is the sportsmen's outreach coordinator for TU's Alaska Program. He lives and works in Anchorage. 

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