Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 7:51 PM on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Springtime in Alaska breaks all those lyrical stereotypes



By NICK C. VARNEY

There are several things about the arrival of spring that have always annoyed me.

First, there is the melt-freeze cycle that turns our yard into a miniature glacier which, if it rains, quickly morphs into a pond that could conceal hippos.

Then, there's trying to get to town without destroying my rig's front end alignment. Breakup spawns potholes disguised as water puddles. These things lurk everywhere and have been known to swallow everything from those little eco rigs to a recorded case of a missing asphalt truck. Luckily the smaller cars help fill in the holes for those of us with pickups and smooth out the road a bit.

The yearly mud 'n' muck issues deserve their own column.

What really gets me is when several of nature's male critters living near our abode become saturated with a cyclical overdose of testosterone.

The worst scoundrels are feral rooster pheasants who, around three in the morning, start hurling obnoxious challenges at each other from behind every piece of pucker-bush in the immediate area. These tools have egos bigger than a biker on a custom ride and fling insults that would make the crew of a crab boat blush.

It really gets interesting when they finally get pumped enough to come out of hiding and take it to the streets. In my case it's usually our cabin's deck right after I settle in to read a book or write.

The combatants' timing is impeccable. All I need to do is turn on some quiet jazz, fire up the computer or turn a page and all of sudden it's Blood and Crips gang-bang hour under the nearest window.

A "Yo! You lookin' at me a$#*^@+?" bird bellow comes out of nowhere just as I take my first sip of hot coffee. This prompts a steaming spillage that ends up in a hypersensitive area launching me high enough that I could change bulbs in the cathedral ceiling lighting.

Needless to say, I'm not amused and have been known to arbitrate these confrontations by adding both antagonists to the freezer next to our seriously deceased rabbit stash.

Initially, they just keep coming until the brighter ones figure out that it's healthier to stage their cage fights on someone else's property or learn sign language.

This year started out to be much of the same until the battle of the bunnies erupted.

I normally don't give a squat about the critters other than they are delicious with various side dishes and make an interesting topic of conversation if served as an entrée on Easter.

By now most of you must have noticed that the rabbit population has exploded around the Kenai Peninsula, half of which seem to be breeding close to our cabin.

I always thought they were timid creatures that hopped around being cute while trying to avoid hawks, eagles, coyotes and Elmer Fudd.

I was way wrong.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, dawn was peeking one eye over the horizon when I stepped out to pick up the newspaper and caught a glimpse of some sort of dust-up near the raspberry bushes.

It was a couple of white hares (one huge, the other an idiot) throwing down on each other. I'm talking a major duke-out. They were dancing around on their back feet and all up in each other's face sparing like they were fighting for the heavy weight Lepus belt of the world.

It didn't last long. Harezilla got in a good right uppercut, fang to the snout and a low blow that put a serious hurt on his smaller opponent's breeding career. I was amazed but dismissed it as a temporary territorial war.

Wrong again. Skirmishes started breaking out all over the 'hood so I went on a Google safari to find out what was up.

I don't have enough space to give you the details. All I can say is that, according to the web tour, it's going to get a lot wilder and weirder come late April.

It looks like my initial theory was correct. It was a couple of bucks squaring off over turf. The real mêlées start when mating season gets into full swing.

It turns out that the Attila-The-Hares who conquer territories and then try to claim their harems could be in for a major buzz-kill.

Why? Because, if a male approaches an unreceptive female too closely, he may be vigorously rebuffed. If he is persistent the lady will attempt to turn him into stew meat until he gets the hint.

It turns out that if the bucks weren't such great beggars the species would have become extinct long ago and we'd have ended up with the Easter Pig hiding eggs from the kids.

To be truthful I really don't care who rumbles with who as long as they don't do it my under my window — especially when I'm deep into a serial killer tale and have a hot mug of java in my hand.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com when he's not trying to hide from fighting bunnies.

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