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.

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