Well, we all knew it couldn’t last. Here we’ve been on an awesome super sunny day roll, and what happens? A big fire flares up 50 miles north of us, and a smoke plume the size of Godzilla rolls over Kachemak Bay. Holy Beijing! Despite all our clean living and responsible environmentalism, this week it was as if we’d lived in Los Angeles circa 1965. You can’t blame polluting cars, smokestacks and wood stoves. Nope, Ma Nature, with a bit of help from some irresponsible humans, got that wildfire going.
If it’s any consolation, the reason we have smoke is because a stiff north wind blew it down on the bay. We took a hit for our friends in the Central Kenai Peninsula. The wind blew the fire toward Tustumena Lake and, as one firefighter said, making better moose habitat. If the wind shifts and the fire goes north or west, though, it could be bad news for Kasilof, Funny River and Soldotna. The people of Tyonek are praying that when they come back from fish camp, their village will still be there.
So here we are, the first big weekend of the summer, and we’re praying that it rains Memorial Day weekend. How twisted is that? In some years May has been cold, soggy and dreary, and we’ve hoped for sunshine. It just goes to show that Alaskans can never be satisfied with their weather.
You can’t joke about 20,000-acre wildfires. You can’t joke about conditions so hot and dry that the slightest dumb error — an abandoned campfire or a big beach bonfire in the driftwood — can turn the world into Armageddon. Let’s just hope the wind doesn’t turn. Let’s hope our awesome firefighters can hold the line and the Funny River Horse Trail burns itself out.
Be safe, Betsteroids. Enjoy the weekend and remember the reason for the start of the season, the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war. Get out and start the summer right, maybe with these Best Bets:
BEST BACK ON THE BAY BET: They’ve gone through zillions of incarnations and band members, but the English Bay Band stays true to its roots: classic Americana music with a Suqpiaq twist. You’ve enjoyed them for years, and now they’re back for two days at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Down East Saloon.
BEST COME BACK NANUQ BET: What will be the fate of nanuq, the polar bear? Inupiaq artist Allison Warden looks at that theme in her own quirky, but serious way. If you missed her “Calling All Polar Bears” when it showed in Homer in 2012, here’s another chance to catch the one-woman show when Pier One Theatre starts its summer season. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the little red theater on the Homer Spit.
BEST INNER GEEK BET: You won’t quite finish this race, but you’ll come close with Run for Pi, a 3.14-mile race that starts and finishes at Karen Hornaday Park. Since Pi can be calculated to like a billion decimal places, does the race ever quite end? Sponsored by Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, it’s a benefit for those fine organizations.
Registration is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and the race is at 1 p.m. The fee is $5 a person and one pie per family or couple. Nerd costumes — i.e., Betsteroid fashions — are encouraged.
BEST GROW VEGGIES GROW: Vegetables already? Thank the warm weather and high tunnels. Get your green on from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday with the start of the Homer Farmers Market on Ocean Drive. Shop for Homer-grown produce and local crafts and enjoy music from Shamwari Marimba.
BEST PLANTING SEEDS BET: Need some tips on what to plant this season? Hang with the local experts atn the monthly meeting of the Homer Garden Club at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Best Western Bidarka Inn. Check out their website at www.homergardenclub.org for more details.
BEST YOU MIGHT JUST BE ONE: You don’t have to be from the south to be a redneck — heck, even Alaskans can be rednecks. Put on your redneck duds and enjoy line dancing, Dixie cups and country music for the Redneck Romp at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Alibi. There will be prizes for best costume.