Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Perspective on an Alaskan winter

The inches accumulated a little at a time are easily removed.

  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 11:58pm
  • Life

How about this snow! It’s on everyone’s mind. Will Morrow wrote about it, and here I am! I think I have discovered something about us on the Kenai: when snow starts at Hallowe’en and continues until St. Patrick’s day, accumulating several feet over time, no one cares. Often you hear “What do you expect? It’s Alaska.”

But when we get only dribs and drabs of snow from Nov. 1 on, and have only enough at Christmas to say “Oh yes, it’s a White Christmas” and collect only a smattering until Valentine’s Day, when Mother Nature laughs and sends days of snow just as we were beginning to believe in climate change and think SPRING, we don’t like it as much. About then, the first person to say “What did you expect? It’s Alaska” is likely to get his head chopped off with a snow shovel.

How often did you snicker as reports of the Polar Vortex sweeping the Lower 48 brought news of closed schools and frozen water pipes? And when your brother/friend/distant cousin sent messages that Wherever South was colder than Kenai you smiled and said “Your point?” And it snowed in Arizona — admit it! You laughed.

It’s perspective, I’m sure. The inches accumulated a little at a time are easily removed. A couple of swipes with the shovel (or a broom!) and we’re good to go. Even if it is necessary to do it every day or two, a couple of inches of dry fluffy snow is just good exercise. It’s when we haven’t had to move snow most of the winter, then get a dump at 30 degrees. It is impossible to move the car until the snow blower is fired up and run, or worse, until the neighborhood plow can get to us as he comes down the street a driveway at a time. That is when winter becomes the unwelcome visitor.

And of course, just as the snow is cleared and the tools put away for the day, the city plow comes by and fills up the end of the driveway with a solid wall of heavy wet snow. A-h-h-h-laska (as my friend, the Purple Moose, says).

Our daughter and son-in-law from Hawaii arrived at the beginning of that big snow storm. They drove down from Anchorage. S-I-L was in his glory. (Perspective?) He was dressed for the weather with boots and stocking hat and even gloves. Daughter was a little more “been there, done that” and just rolled her eyes when I asked why they hadn’t flown down rather than rent a car to drive in the snow. Luckily they were at the forefront, so the highway was still pretty good when they started out. No. 1 Son then flew down the next day on the only plane to leave Anchorage for the peninsula that day. It took 45 minutes in the air to get to Kenai. He said he wasn’t sure where he was going to be when they landed, it took so long.

S-I-L was really into the snowstorm, so like any good father-in-law, Hubby taught him to run the snow shovel. And he learned fast. He really wanted a turn at the snowblower, but just as it would have happened, the shear pin broke, as is par for the course on a blizzardly day.

I told him he is probably lucky because he would have really gotten a lesson in “winter” if he had been running the snowblower when the pin gave way. I learned every cuss word I know between outboard motors and winter tools.

As an added bonus that week, Granddaughter No. 2 visited from Oregon. Having experienced the Polar Vortex, she was happy to come to Kenai. She and her dad (Youngest Son) went ice fishing and otherwise enjoyed the after-storm. She left on a bright sunny day hoping some of it would ride home with her. And even took a couple of fish with her.

S-I-L was here to get pictures of the Aurora. They headed north as soon as the weather cleared, and enjoyed some Interior Winter, but no Aurora. He did get pictures of the snow moon, however, and, of course, of lots of snow drifts. Maybe next year. I emailed him he should have stayed an extra week.

March came in like a lamb and typically, we are now experiencing cloudy days. Spring is right around the corner, and if you look hard, you can see it in the distance: more and more light. A new friend asked me last month “when do they turn off the lights on the trees and buildings?” I guess that is one of our signs of impending spring: when the twinkle lights go out around town.

The Iditarod is running and daylight saving time is here. We may have seen the last of winter, but don’t count on it. Mother Nature will need to give us one more reminder that after all, this IS Alaska.


• By VIRGINIA WALTERS


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