If you’re one of those grumpy Homer curmudgeons who don’t like kids and live downtown, you might want to turn out your lights, lock your doors and hide in the basement tonight. Not only will your neighbors’ little darlings come knocking for Halloween, but so will children from as far away as Detroit, it seems. OK, maybe not Detroit, but the greater Homer area.
After decades of living in Alaska, the years and seasons blur together. The Betster’s memories might have gotten mixed up, but yours truly dimly remembers the progress of summer to fall goes something like this: August, rain; September, more rain and colder; October, colder, lots of frost and some snow. Betsteroids, something has gone out of whack here.
You know how people these days get all harsh and rude, particularly on social media and the interwebs? Yeah, well, that’s Congress for ya. See? That’s mean and petty, isn’t it? Well, PRConsultants Group, a national public relations professional organization, wants to put a stop to that, at least for one day. They’ve declared next Tuesday Snark Free Day.
No, they don’t mean the mythical beast in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland,” which can be charmed with smiles and soap. They’re talkin’ snark as in nasty and sinister.
About this time of year, Homerites fall into outerwear confusion. One day it can be sunny and warm, with just a light jacket or sweater needed to brave the fall air. Another day it can be blowing rain sideways followed by blowing leaves sideways, but with sunny skies. Rain gear? Wool jacket? Gloves and hat? You just never know what to throw in your car to face the day.
Yet another Alaska reality TV show washes up on the airwaves. Starting Sunday on TLC is “Alaskan Women Looking for Love,” about six Alaska women who head south to Miami Beach looking for goods that aren’t odd.
“Faced with men consumed by fishing and hunting, often sporting long hair and scruffy beards, these women are fed up with their options,” a press release reads.
Whew. Dudes, these Alaska women have your number. Not content that there are more men than women here, they also want you to clean up nice. Hmmph.
With Tuesday’s municipal election approaching, the Betster has been thinking a lot about legacy. You know, the stuff we as individuals leave to our loved ones and the kind of community those who follow us find after we’ve left.
Seems like legacy — the kind we leave as individuals and as a community — is all about wanting to make a difference in big and small ways. Who doesn’t want to leave this place we call home a little better than we found it?
Skywatchers, if you missed the Harvest Moon Wednesday night, go take a look tonight and you’ll get a glimpse of the almost full Harvest Moon. It’s a sight worth seeing. It’s dubbed the “Harvest Moon” because its bright light allowed farmers to harvest their crops for several more hours, according to Farmers’ Almanac. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs nearest to the fall equinox.
An alert observer of the natural world e-mailed the Betster with an update on the sandhill crane migration. “Huge Normandy Invasion type of crane formation passed over Homer heading southeast around 11:45 a.m.,” Mr. Nature Observer — we’ll call him “Nick” — wrote.
With that many cranes flying, you’d have to have sampled one-too-many fine wines not to notice. The Betster cautions against overimbibing, because that can lead to bad things. Also, don’t try the five-finger discount trick or you’ll be making some new friends at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.
The other day the Betster and some friends debated whether or not it would rain on a holiday weekend. “It’s Alaska, in September,” the Betster said. “What do you think?”
Anyone who has lived here long enough — say, two weeks — knows that Alaska weather can be pretty darn fickle. If you want consistent weather that is the same day after day after day, try the southwest. Also, practice saying, “But it’s a dry heat,” a lot.
Your average American holiday requires some sort of token effort. It’s not just a day off. You have to cook a turkey, shop for presents, put on a fancy dress, buy chocolate, get a new hat, buy more chocolate, watch a parade, march in a parade and maybe do some speechifying. Holy Punch List! That’s a lot of stuff to do.
You know why it rains in August? That’s so when students go back to school with their new clothes and carefully arranged coiffures, Ma Nature just dumps on them and ruins the back-to-school look. The universe has it in for teenagers, especially for kids just starting high school. There you are, heading for the big leagues, trying to make an impression and not look like a dweeb, and poof, one quick squall waiting for the school bus and so long super glamorous gel-spiked ’do.
If you did a web search on “photos of icky fall colors” on local social media pages, your eyes would blur at the thousands of images flashing by. You don’t need the Betster to chronicle the subtle shift in Homer seasons, not when hundreds of citizen photographers stand ready with cell phone cameras.
Click! Oh look, that Devil’s Club leaf is turning yellow. Click! Oh my, the fireweed flowers have quit blooming and the leaves are turning purple. Click! The lupines have turned to seed.
Some want to blame the Betster for this recent stretch of soggy weather. “So seize that sun again and again as if it might end tomorrow,” the B. wrote last week, whereupon, well, the sunshine ended. Blaming the Betster for this is what is called the post hoc fallacy, for trying to say there’s a causal connection between two events just because one follows the other.
It might seem like a distant memory, but remember in May when it snowed? Remember how miserable we were, shivering during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, and worrying that once again we would be skunked by a wretched summer? Yeah, the Betster forgot about that, too.
The Betster has lived in Alaska long enough to be eligible for the Pioneers of Alaska, and has spent summers here from Barrow to Funny River. On the B’s list, this summer is in the top-5 of The All Time Best Summer in Alaska, if not Absolutely the Best Summer in Alaska (So Far).
What with all this road construction and utility work, the Betster hasn’t had so much fun driving since the summer years ago when yours truly took Driver’s Ed at Chamberlain High School in Tampa, Fla. The Betster still remembers fondly the gruff coach who rode shotgun, big foot always ready to jam on the extra brake should the Betster do something stupid, like stop at the top of the on ramp to Interstate 75. OK, there the coach needed an extra accelerator.
The other day the Betster noticed a large, saucer shaped cloud hovering over Homer. Sometimes a cloud is just a cloud, but sometimes clouds are cleverly disguised alien mother ships, particularly if saucer shaped. This would explain a lot, because apparently half of Homer has been abducted by aliens. How else to explain why all the really important people the Betster needed to talk to for a really important story seem to have disappeared?
The other day as the Betster drove by yet another crew of lime-green vested pipeline dudes playing with big plastic tubes, a thought crossed the B’s mind.
This town has gotten awfully busy.
Oh yeah, there’s the usual in-state Alaska refugee traffic — Fairbankshoovians escaping smoky skies and mosquitoes the size of B-52s — as well as big land yachts with funny Lower 48 license plates (“Rhode Island: Because even though we’re smaller than some Alaska cities, we get two U.S. senators”).
A national holiday on Thursday? That is like so Thanksgiving, but there you go. This year, we celebrate the Fourth of July on Thursday. You know what that means. Just like in November, a lot of people will be calling in sick Friday — if they even have to work at all. Thanks to the miracle of cell phones, your boss cannot possibly know you’ve come down with a nasty stomach flu while basking in the sun at a remote fishing lodge. That’s assuming you don’t put on Facebook a photo of you holding up a barn door halibut.
Here in Betsterland we run into a contradiction every summer: The more stuff that happens, the less space we have to write about it. Galleries, restaurants and bars have so much happening they of course want bigger and better ads on the primo Best Bets page. More ads, less Betster. Hey, it pays the bills.
Based on the number of people with reddish tints to their faces around town, not all of you listened to the Betster’s advice last week regarding the rare event of continued sunshine. The Betster expected that mentioning an awesome stretch of clear summer weather would curse the weather and bring rain.
Danged if that didn’t work. Oh, not right away, but by Tuesday, poof, a sudden downpour roared in. Admit it: Weren’t you getting a little tired of all that sun? Hadn’t you begun to worry that we might have a rip-roaring wildfire?