(File)

(File)

Unhinged Alaska: The annoyances of spring

Certain testosterone-infused feral critters strut around our acreage like Wild Bill Hickok

  • Saturday, April 20, 2019 10:17pm
  • Life

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

First, there is the melt-freeze cycle that turns our back forty into a noteworthy ice field which, if it rains significantly, quickly morphs into a millpond that could conceal a pod of deeply disturbed belugas.

Then there’s the challenge of getting into the ville without turning my truck’s alignment into something resembling the aftermath of impacting a hefty beast with the same highway crossing skills as a week-old roadkill.

How does that particular scenario work? Breakups spawn road surface pits that are cunningly concealed beneath the surface of what seem to be innocuous pools of H2O. These monsters can be found almost everywhere and have been known to consume everything from little eco rigs to a rumored case of a missing asphalt truck and its crew. The positive side to this sad scenario is that the wee vehicles sometimes fill in the holes enough to smooth out the road a bit.

Another irritation popping up during this seasonal swing are certain testosterone-infused feral critters strutting around our acreage like Wild Bill Hickok looking for a gunfight except that they’re only armed with a tiny, single shot, organic popgun.

I’ve written about these narcissistic clowns before and nothing has changed much over the years other than I’ve added some pretty impressive recipes to my stash.

I’m talking about wild rooster pheasants that have the propensity to commence hurling despicable slurs at each other from behind every piece of pucker-bush in the predawn hours of the morning. These idiots, with negative IQ ratings, have egos bigger than a politician and are known to fling insult shrieks that, if deciphered, would make a crab boat crew blanch.

It’s a fascinating scenario to watch as they finally get riled enough to go full cage fighter and I’ve witnessed throw downs that deserved “pay-for-view” consideration.

What I don’t appreciate is when they decide to have it out on our deck, especially behind the window where I do my writing. Needless to say, I have refereed some of those matches and quickly declared a winner much to dismay of both participants, especially the loser dropped from the competition and into the freezer.

Sometimes neither one makes the cut.

I remember one dust up that went something like this:

A, “Yo! You lookin’ at me you $#*^@+&%#?” bird-bellow exploded behind me just as I sat down to start a column and take a delicate sip of hot coffee.

My unmanly reaction prompted a torrent of java lava to cascade onto a hypersensitive area that launched me high enough to change the trac-light bulbs in our upstairs loft. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Needless to say, I was not amused and there was no dispute arbitration. They made an outstanding main entrée for our Easter brunch.

This spring has been less hectic because the hare population still hasn’t recovered from its low several years ago when their numbers imploded around the Kenai Peninsula.

Hare jack rumbles were prolific in the surrounding fields which, in turn, attracted voracious raptors and coyotes looking for an easy nosh of horn-dog bucks engrossed in duking it out for the affections of a jill. Not cool, especially if one has small pets and/or domestic egg layers to protect.

What was even more tragic was the fact that, even when a jack won and survived aerial and ground attacks, he still had to deal with the object of his desire. If he had inadvertently targeted an unreceptive jill, he could be vigorously rebuffed to the point that the lady in question would attempt to turn him into stew meat until he got the hint. Even if he won, he was leveret loser.

As I write this, it is a beautiful day on the bay and I’m aggravation free.

Two expectant moose have returned to their annual calving sanctuaries near our home and eagles are soaring overhead carrying renovation materials for their nests. Anytime now, I’m expecting the rattling bugle calls of our local sandhill cranes as they return from their winter migration. Close behind will be choirs of robins serenading us from their settling areas in the alders shadowed by flitting diminutive feathered creatures chanting in chirps and chimes announcing the commencement of a peace-filled spring.

Hopefully, it will also be the cock roosters’ time to take the hint. If not, I have a new deep fryer that needs an inaugural launch.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.


• By NICK VARNEY


More in Life

Bacon is prepared on a fire pit, June 19, 2020, in the Copper River Valley, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Eating from fire

My attitude toward camp cooking is that you can eat pretty much anything you would eat at home.

Irene Lampe dances a robe for its First Dance ceremony at the Sealaska Heritage Institute on Monday, June 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Annie Bartholomew)
Weavers celebrate new robe with first dance

The event is part of a resurgent trend for traditional weaving.

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Summer traditions

Over the years, a paella feed has marked momentous occasions, like moving or birthday parties.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Looking in the rearview mirror

I stepped through a time warp last week.

Concert on Your Lawn revives spirit of KBBI festival

The concert came about after the pandemic forced KBBI to cancel a planned Solstice weekend concert.

Minister’s Message: Finding hope in dark times

A life lived without hope is like a life lived without love.

Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Morels all the ways

When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels.

This portrait—one of few that Richard Shackelford reportedly allowed to be published—graced the 1909 commencement booklet for the California Polytechnic School, of which he was the president of the Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy Clark Fair)
A tale of Two Shacklefords, in a way — part three

Untangling the origins of Shackleford Creek’s name.

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

It’s amazing what a deck of cards or a set of dice can teach a young person.

Kachemak Cuisine: Find comfort in hard times by cooking good food

The first tastes of spring for me are rhubarb, fresh-caught fish from Kachemak Bay and chives.

Fiddlehead ferns shooting up from the ground, on May 24 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Foraging for fiddleheads

Springtime in Alaska is the beginning of foraging season for me.