One of Alaskans’ favorite sports these days is making fun of how woefully unprepared cities in the Lower 48 can be when snow falls. We’re not talking respectable amounts of snow, like your average Buffalo, N.Y., blizzard of 5 feet. We’re talking 5 inches in downtown Portland, Ore. Apparently our neighbors to the south got a bit more snow than they’re used to. An ex-pat Alaska friend on Facebook has been whining about the pathetic response in Corvallis, Ore. “School’s canceled for the fourth day in a row!” she wrote. “Are they just going to wait until it melts in the spring?”
Another friend in Eugene, Ore., posted a photo of her street. “No snowplow in five days,” she wrote. The picture showed what we in Homer would call “a dusting,” about two inches. In parts of the country where snow comes about as often as a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, it doesn’t take much to cripple a town. Have mercy on these poor people. Most of them don’t have Subarus or SUVs, not to mention studded tires. Rain they can handle, but not when it gets all slushy and white on them.
The Betster would keep being smug, but then the Betster remembers the story of an Alaskan who went to a small college in Sarasota, Fla. So excited was she about being able to go barefoot that she did so as often as possible, even when it climbed into the 90s and turned sidewalks into hot griddles. There’s a reason you see Floridians wearing flip-flops. First, those inviting grass lawns have sand spurs, and, second, concrete can be blistering when heated. The poor Alaskan student burned the soles of her feet.
Sure, we can handle winter nicely. We know how to dress for it. We know the shoes to wear, because we have plenty, and for everything from slush to subzero. We know how to drive, most of us. We know how to build houses for winter and we especially don’t skimp on paying for good snow plowing. That’s why at 7 a.m. when you walk your kid to the bus stop, a city or state plow has been over the road at least once.
Every climate has its challenges. Every longtime resident in a state with some peculiar weather pattern has learned how to adapt. Every city or state has some quirk which makes living there interesting, and separates the cheechakos from the sourdoughs. If we Alaskans think we’re tough, just try to take the T from Brookline to Logan Airport in Boston with just one change. Or is that two? A Bostonian can do that without thinking.
Viva la difference! they say in Canada, and that’s the way we roll. Have pity on Portland. They’ll dig out of the mess eventually, just like us, and when they do, they’ll probably celebrate with their own Best Bets, but they won’t be as cool as these:
BEST BIRD ON BET: Sure, we all know crows, eagles, gulls, and ravens, but do you want to know more about other Kachemak Bay winter birds? Dave Erikson offers a winter bird identification class at 6:30 p.m. today at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. It’s great just by itself, but use the class to prepare for the Homer Audubon Christmas Bird Count starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Meet at Islands and Ocean to form teams and then go out and count birds.
BEST PRETTY FAIR BET: Need a trip out of town, but not too far? Head north to Ninilchik for the Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. There will be craft booths and all the usual fun stuff as well as a pretty good display of Christmas lights.
BEST SANTA PAWS BET: Yes, that’s what Homer Animal Friends is calling their event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Animal Shelter — Santa Paws is Coming to Town. Bring your favorite furry friend to the shelter and have a photo taken with Santa Paws. A donation of $10 is request to support Homer Animal Friends. Pets must be on a leash or in a carrier.
BEST OUT IN THE WORLD BET: It’s hard to let your children go, but after you’ve held a successful Kickstarter campaign to record your new CD, well, that’s time to let your creations go forth in the world. Join Homer musician Heidjo for the release of her new album with a concert at 5 p.m. Sunday at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Admission is $10 or pay as you can. CDs will be on sale, and Heidijo can probably be persuaded to autograph them, too.
BEST MOVIN’ ON BET: Wosnesenski and Chirikof Islands in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge have been overrun with cattle. Our local cowboys probably have a few good ideas about how to solve the problem. Head ‘em up and move ‘em out, maybe? But where? And how? Share your ideas in “What to do about those cattle?” from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at the Alaska Islands and Open House. Refuge managers will be there to listen.