Alaska Unhinged: The three true signs of spring

It really wasn’t much of a winter around here. In fact, it was more like putting up with a sickly spring with a cold since last January.

The weirdness continued throughout April when the seasonal rains failed to make their entrance bow and the fire hazard went up almost as fast as the gouge on gasoline prices.

Around the end of the month I noticed locals scurrying about prepping their flower beds while carefully uncovering miscellaneous over priced bushes and trees that they’ve protected all winter with multiple defensive methods ranging from fish net caps to tiny nuclear free booby traps.

Their timing was unfortunate because it coincided with the arrival of small units of pregnant moosettes lusting for exotic plants because they couldn’t get their hooves wrapped around a half gallon of Haagen-Dazs and quart of dill pickles. 

The devastation was awesome and swift as the moody ungulates moved from yard to yard during the pre-dawn hours shearing exposed and tasty greenery down to ground level within a few hours of serious grazing with a grin.

T’was a sad state of affairs when the meticulous gardeners awakened to enjoy a cup of rare imported coffee and dip their Pop Tarts only to discover their backyards steaming with fresh, gluten free, fiber nuggets where their prized flora used to reside. The preggers moose thought it was cool.

Everyone has their own version of when spring really arrives. Mine occurred during the first weekend of May.

Yeah, I know, it sounds like I had been ignoring the obvious. Eagles were already on the nest, the robins were back along with a plethora of other song birds. Ducks, geese, and sand hill cranes were in landing patterns all over the Kenai and Afterburner, the diminutive neighborhood hawk was back trying to make a gourmet taste treat out of our clueless miniature rescue poodle.

Still it wasn’t quite spring to me until May third when we headed up to Soldotna to buy a new bed set along with a quick pit stop at Freddy’s.

We left early hoping to dodge at least some of the weekend traffic but the weather was great and it seemed like everyone with something that floats was heading toward Homer. Finally, one of my more important prerequisites confirming spring had appeared and was rolling south toward our boat harbor.

The second came in the parking lot of Fred Meyer.

I am not a patient shopper. I would just as soon run a four wheeler with a small trailer down the aisles scooping up what I deem essential for our survival for at least a month. Unfortunately Freddy’s frowns on this technique due the negative impact it has on its other customers’ karma. Plus it highly annoys my wife, so I sit in the truck and mull over the newspaper and watch shoppers passing by. It was there I came across another official seasonal sign.

A couple of ladies parked next to me and as they piled out of their rig I was almost blinded by several alabaster flashes from my side mirror and the silver finish of their SUV.  I was stunned but managed to flip on a pair of shades dark enough to make the surrounding area look like it was experiencing a full eclipse of the sun.

The source of the brilliance was the abrupt appearance of the infamous winter legs syndrome and the women were sporting primo examples of the condition while wearing shorts so condensed they could have been classified as pajama briefs. The intense white on their legs made the plumage of a snow goose resemble the feathers on a mud duck.

It turned out they were not the only ones with exposed flesh gleaming like fresh brushed teeth. The parking lot was teeming with sun worshipers from teens in halter tops to grandparents in walking shorts, each vying for the first major sunburn of the year. I voted for the gals in the short shorts. I could have sworn their skin was turning pink and trailing smoke before they hit the store’s entrance.

My last condition for the arrival of spring was met on the way home.

Between the time we arrived in the area and the time we cruised out of there, Soldotna and the road south had become festooned with bikers easy riding everything from glimmering hogs to a guy on a Moped styling with enough riding leather to build his own cow.

It was a great day. We now have a fine new bed and I can rest easy that spring has finally arrived and my stocks in sunscreen manufactures are set to soar. I’ll bet those first two lady pale walkers, alone, are good for a one point rise on the Dow Jones.


Nick can be reached at if he isn’t playing “Peel the Patch” on the back of his knees where his “snowy whites” were barbecued during a beach walk last Sunday.

More in Life

Promotional image via the Performing Arts Society
Saturday concert puts jazz, attitude on stage

Lohmeyer is a former local music teacher

The author holds a copy of Greta Thunberg’s, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference,” inside the Peninsula Clarion building on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Thunberg speeches pack a punch

“No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference” is a compilation of 16 essays given by the climate activist

White chocolate cranberry cake is served with fresh cranberries. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Hard-to-ruin cranberry cake

This white chocolate cranberry cake is easy to make and hard to ruin — perfect for my students aged 3, 6, 7 and 7.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: It’s March

March is the trickster month, probably why we see so much raven activity these days

After Pres. Woodrow Wilson commuted his death sentence to life in prison, William Dempsey (inmate #3572) was delivered from Alaska to the federal penitentiary on McNeil Island, Wash. These were his intake photos. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks archives)
A Nexus of Lives and Lies: The William Dempsey story — Part 7

The opening line of Dempsey’s first letter to Bunnell — dated March 19, 1926 — got right to the point

Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel in “The Last of Us.” (Photo courtesy HBO)
On the Screen: ‘The Last of Us’ perfectly adapts a masterpiece

HBO unquestionably knew they had a hit on their hands

Chocolate cake is topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A cake topped with love (and white chocolate cream cheese)

He loved the frosting so much he said he never wants anything else on his cake

In 1914, Pres. Woodrow Wilson appointed Charles Bunnell to be the judge of the Federal District Court for the Third and Fourth divisions of the Alaska Territory. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks archives)
A Nexus of Lives and Lies: The William Dempsey story — Part 6

Prosecution lawyers were fortunate to have a fallback plan: witnesses to the crime.

The author displays her daily vitamin, three yellowish clear bubbles of Vitamin D, and 20 mg of Paxil. (Photo by Meredith Harber/Minister’s Message)
Minister’s Message: Accepting all parts of your story of growth

I started taking Paxil almost six years ago, after a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression

Most Read