“A screaming comes across the sky,” starts Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow.” Pynchon wrote about V-2 rockets in London during World War II, but here at Latitude 59 degrees and some change, that scream you hear is the collective shout of 5,000 winter hardened citizens facing the prospect of yet another day of sunshine.
If you had taken a three-week vacation recently and just gotten back in town, you might wonder if you missed a plane somewhere. Where is all the snow? Why are all the people wearing shorts? And what is all that green stuff?
Yup, that’s Alaska in spring time. Remember May 18 when it snowed 3 inches in the hills? Remember when we were wondering if the studded tire deadline would get extended another week? Here it is 21 days later and danged if spring didn’t come after all.
How does that adage go? Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. That’s what’s happening this week at the Homer News. With one reporter gone on a much-deserved vacation and another recovering from an unexpected health problem, well, putting out this week’s paper has required more than a little bit of magic — and even more help from our friends.
Just to continue this bizarre spring, it snowed 3 inches in the hills last Thursday. For you flatlanders, that’s why you saw cars around town that looked like they had time tripped from March. Some of the cars might have still had studs on, even though it was a day past the May 15 deadline.
Holy Little Ice Age! When is this all going to end? Will we even have a summer? Have we entered another round of global weirding? Is anyone going to show up this weekend for Memorial Day, or are our northern friends too chilled and frozen to contemplate getting out the camping gear?
We silly humans think that just because we set a schedule the world will follow. Hah! You know how that studded tire deadline worked out. The snow was supposed to be gone by May 1, but that didn’t happen, so the deadline got extended to May 15.
Even though we threw a big party for the shorebirds, last Thursday when the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival started, only about 60 sandpipers had arrived. By Friday a few thousand more showed up.
Yowzah, has spring finally arrived in this year’s Not Current In This Time Zone season.The other day the Betster broke out into a smile at the sound of a floatplane taking off on Beluga Lake. Yee haw! The ice broke up.
We bird nerds have been absolutely giddy the past week with daily arrivals of some new shorebird. Yup, it’s the 21st Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. From now until Sunday it’s just birds, birds, birds all day, all the time.
You can tell it’s spring because the calendar now says May. Seriously. In some parts of the world people celebrate the month by torching off big bonfires.
Recently the Betster went up to Anchortown for a big journo conference. Periodic trips to Alaska's big city are worthwhile, if only to remind us of how awesome it is to live at the end of the road. The Betster always is stunned by how much the city keeps growing. At the University of Alaska Anchorage, where the Betster once attended, lots of new buildings have gone up. If not for big monumental art like the pile of lawn chairs or the twisted pipeline, the Betster would have been totally lost.
It’s kinda hard to get silly and sarcastic when the week starts with a bombing in Boston that kills three people and maims many. Sure, humor can temper horror, but we word monkeys walk a very thin tightrope in times like this. The Betster really, really loves Boston and its people, including like a gazillion relatives and friends living in the greater Boston area. It’s a good thing the Betster learned to touch type in 11th grade, because the keyboard gets blurry when seen through tears.
In yet another sign of spring — the Betster has a long list, by the way — Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joseph Masters extended the studded tire deadline for all roads to May 1. Oh, sure, if you live north of latitude 60 degrees somewhere near Happy Valley, that has always been the deadline. Down here at the end of the road, the genius who wrote Alaska Statute 28.35.155 didn’t realize, or didn’t care, that a little hunk of the Kenai Peninsula was south of 60. Brilliant.
The other day while toiling away in the word mines, the Betster experienced something unknown since last summer. I got hot. No, we’re not talking the heat of grinding brain cells or from snuggling under six layers of comforter, blanket and big dog. We’re talking solar heat, a blast of thermal rays roaring through the western windows here at the intergalactic news headquarters on Beluga Lake.
When you woke up the other day, did you feel a little bit older? If so, that’s because you are older — a lot, lot older, NASA scientists say, like 100 million years older. Thanks to some new research, NASA has come up with a new map of the oldest light in the universe. The new age estimate is 13.8 billion years, 100 million years more than previous calculations.
Holy Feng Shui, Betsteroids! Did you know March has five Fridays in it? This is supposed to be really rare and is called “money bags,” according to a chain email that popped up on Facebook saying I should copy it to my status. No, the Betster doesn’t believe everything on Facebook, either, but then again, you never know. Does it count if a chain email goes in Best Bets?
For the past few days the Betster has been chasing owls and comets. The Betster has been on a mission to find that great gray owl for the Betster Spousal Companion, who has yet to see it. You'd think this would be easy what with all the cop reports of cars blocking West Hill Road. Nope.
First the great gray was on the uphill side of West Hill, then on the downhill side. On Tuesday the bird hotline reported a sighting of it being on the trail below the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Nada.
Have you noticed this month how every date in March falls on the same day of the week as in February? Feb. 1? A Friday. March 1? A Friday. It will go on like this until March 29 to 31, of course, seeing as how February only had 28 days. Except for Leap Year, February is a sensible month that can be divided into four seven-day weeks. If all months had 28 days, and Jan. 1 started on a Sunday, every date would fall on the same day of the week. Cool.
The big hot tech news this week had something to do with a thing called Google Glass. At first the Betster thought that was Google Grass. You can search the Web just by lying on a lawn? Sweet. It turned out the Betster got that wrong, which is just as well, seeing as how in Homer if we tried to lie on a lawn all we'd get would be a cold back.
You know how everyone says that modern social media is like way cool? On Facebook you can connect with old high school classmates, long lost relatives and people stalking you under made-up accounts. Seriously. The Betster read about this recently, where a woman got fired because she accepted a friend request from a fake friend who turned out to be her boss spying on her. Why would someone accept a friend request from someone she didn't know?
Notice the red color on this page? The words “love” and “Valentine’s Day”? Consider this fair warning that today might be a day those romantically involved won’t want to forget. The Betster gave ya a week’s notice already, so if you go home tonight with not even a bag of M&Ms, well, don’t blame the Betster if you spend the night on the lumpy couch.
Yo, Betsteroids, note the date on this issue. That’s right, it’s Feb. 7, a week out from National Strike Fear Into Men’s Hearts Day, more popularly known as “Valentine’s Day.” Fair warning, you romantic fools wishing to impress your sweetie with the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Here’s the first rule of Valentine’s Day gifts. There is no perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
Worried that Homer had settled into a nice, calm stable weather pattern? Did you fear that our reputation as the banana belt of Alaska had been tarnished after that little subzero cold spell over the weekend? Holy goose down! Once again we had to dip into our coat closet and find just the right jacket for life in a coastal maritime climate. Big fluffy parka or light pile jacket? Decisions.