The Shorebird Festival goers have come and gone after the weekend, during which they enjoyed temperatures in the mid-60s, bright sunshine and sparkling water in Kachemak Bay. Whether you were out birding or, like the Betster, soaking up the sun and watching the birders get excited over things with wings and funny names, this weekend was a great prequel to a warm, light-filled summer season.
The birds have been back in town for a couple of weeks, surely but surely arriving in time for Homer’s celebration of their existence. Now it’s our turn to show up on the shores, binoculars and cameras in hand, to pay our respects to the many species of incredible wildlife that choose to spend their summer with us. Whether you’re on the hunt for a peek at your first puffin or feel like staring down a crane in a lagoon, the weekend is chock full of great opportunities and lots of wonderful people to share them with.
If it slipped your mind, like it almost did the Betster’s, this serves as an official reminder that Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8. If mom’s in town, take her to brunch, a walk on the beach, or get nostalgic with the new Jungle Book movie showing at the Homer Theatre. Otherwise, don’t forget to pick up the phone and send some flowers — or even better, some local treat — to show Mom you appreciate that she gave you life.
If you drove out to the Spit this week and happened to see a cluster of people huddled against the wind and staring into spotting scopes, no, you didn’t time travel forward two weeks. We won’t get the big influx of shorebirds until the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival on May 12-15, but the advance wave of shorebirds has arrived.
The Betster admits to being a bird nerd, and even has the sweatshirt to prove it, which is how yours truly wound up doing a bit of peeping at peeps after work on Tuesday. “They’re here!” one bird watcher said with glee.
As the Betster writes this, 93 days have passed and the Alaska Legislature still hasn’t passed a budget or solved the state fiscal crisis. That would be the fiscal crisis everyone has been talking about for the past two years.
Meanwhile, construction workers have been doing external work on the Alaska Capitol. The Legislature faces a real deadline, one to be enforced by burly men and women in hardhats with big tools. Inside work commences on May 2.
You know the rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers?” Not current in this time zone, as television broadcasters used to say back in the days when shows got sent up by tape on a slow barge from Seattle. The better saying might be, “April showers bring May mud.” OK, that doesn’t sound as catchy, but for anyone who has lived in Alaska at least one season, it’s oh-so-true.
Periodically the Homer News gets press releases from Outside media flacks pitching a story. Usually they went us to cover some event happening in Anchorage and we have to explain Alaska geography to them.
As you travel around town on Friday, don’t be surprised if you see some strange things. Holy crocuses! No, we don’t mean the usual variety of weird stuff that happens this time of year, like flowers blooming in toasty planters while 2-feet of snow remains in the hills. That’s just situation normal for a Homer spring. Oh, and the Betster doesn’t mean our everyday colorful characters, like people with lime-green hair and painted XtraTufs. When the Betster says “colorful,” yours truly isn’t using that as a figure of speech.
To seasoned Alaskans it should come as no surprise that spring started with a pleasant little flurry of snow. Winter king fishermen probably weren’t shocked either that Saturday started marvelous and sunny and ended with snow. No one complained, at least those with long memories. One year the Homer Harbor froze solid and the Winter King Tournament had to be postponed. If all you get is some gently falling flakes, well, pfft.
This week has been chock full of important dates. On Monday, 3/14/16, we got Pi Day, because the date is close to the numeral pi, 3.14159. Break out the key lime pies. Yum. On Tuesday it was March 15, the Ides of March, famous for when Julius Caesar discovered that in politics, you can’t even trust your friends and don’t ever want to turn your back on them.
Should you stroll down Pioneer Avenue on Friday night, don’t be surprised if the streets look empty. Unless you’re at the airport or driving north, Homer magically slips into its mid-March slumber. Old men in suspenders sitting on the bench by the Poopdeck Trail will look around and say, “Seems quiet. Too quiet, Hoss.”
When historians look back at March 1, 2016, they will hail it as the day one man overcame obstacles and did what few before him have. One man will have traveled far, risen to heights unimagined, and changed the world.
Holy Spray Tan! Yes, Tuesday marked the day the American astronaut Scott Kelly returned to earth after 340 days in space. Kelly, the twin brother of astronaut Mark Kelly, circled the earth 5,400 times and went 144 million miles. He saw 11,000 sunsets, and has racked up a total of 520 days in space, the record for an American astronaut.
Happy birthday on Feb. 29 to Lord Byron, Gioacchino Rossini, Dinah Shore, Tempest Storm, Ja Rule and Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd
Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William
Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr., who indeed has a Christian name for every letter in the alphabet. Oh, and let’s not forget local hero Kyle Caffroy, a Marine who served in the Iraq War.
Are there any sociology graduate students out there looking for a dissertation topic? Oh brilliant minds, if you haven’t figured it out by now, small towns can be fertile ground for research. And Homer? Holy doctorate, we’re like potatoes to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Why, hello there friend of 3.57 degrees of separation. We don’t know each other yet, but according to a recent Facebook calculation, it would take that many links for any two strangers in the world to connect. Between Fred in Detroit and Vlad in Moscow are three-and-one half people.
The Iniskin quake so shook up the Betster last week that yours truly totally forgot about one of the most important Alaska holidays ever — Marmot Day, of course. Thanks to the bold vision of former Gov. Sarah Palin, Alaska declared Feb. 2 as Marmot Day in celebration of our own big furry rodent, known in Inupiaq as “siksrikpuk.”
Remember KLM Flight 876, the jet that went through the Redoubt Volcano ash in 1989? All four engines shut down and the jet fell 13,000 feet before two could get restarted. Everyone landed safely, but what a ride.
That’s sort of how Alaska felt early Sunday morning with the 7.1-magnitude Iniskin earthquake. It was like an entire state flew in a ginormous plane. For about 30 terrifying seconds we didn’t know what would happen when the shaking stopped. Other than some broken bottles, in Homer we did OK. Four Kenai homes burned, but no one died.
If the clouds clear, for the next month we’ll see all five bright planets clustered together. “Bright” here doesn’t mean planets that did really well on the SAT, but the ones visible with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They’ll be spread out from east to west like pearls over Kachemak Bay.
Next Monday honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., widely considered the man who inspired the modern Civil Rights movement. Through his “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Aug. 23, 1963 Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., King motivated millions to work toward equality for all. King might have said he was nothing more than one man with a gift for oratory and organizing, and that the movement was won by the collective efforts of many.
Seven days into the new year, and already it’s shaping up to be a doozy. To recap the news so far:
• A big, sloppy winter storm roared in, causing ice jams on the Anchor River, knocking over street lamps on the Spit and blowing off roofs.