Unhinged Alaska: The strange saga of the Roundup Man

I’m starting to think that spring may be finally getting off its ample duff to roll up its sleeves and warm things up around here.

For while, I was having serious doubts about its attitude and work ethic with all of its sniveling snow showers, windy snit fits and rains so cold that returning migratory fowl were wondering if they had taken a wrong turn after hitting the southern border of Canada.

My bride has also developed a tenuous trust in the new season by launching forays into local greenhouses in search of perfect tomato starts after she whispers daily encouragements to her two dawdling Dahlias in hopes of rousing them from their winter slumber.

So far one has responded with some very promising green shoots while the other ignores her implorations like a slumbering teenager whose brain is fried after an all-nighter in front of an Xbox.

I, on the other hand, am not a plant guy unless it involves consuming assorted salads.

Give me a handful of seeds and they immediately start to decompose. Even weeds quiver in fear if I approach as they sow their spore. My wife claims I have Roundup in my blood.

That is a bit of an over exaggeration, of course, because, when her floras reach and breach the surface of their containers or garden plots, they need not fear my presence.

I’m perfectly capable of watering them and then stepping away without catastrophic consequences. Other than that, I’m still not trusted to weed around anything she has lovingly nurtured from the soil. She knows I’m botany-challenged and have significant issues when it comes to recognizing the difference between immature flowers and non-indigenous species seeking to destroy the earth. Thus, I have the tendency to take them all out which makes for a less than harmonious relationship with my customarily loving spouse.

Full disclosure note: The only plant life I have no effect on is rhubarb. Nothing but a direct nuclear strike can stop that stuff from spreading. It’s the cockroach of the plant genera. If the earth ever experiences an Armageddon, the only life forms left will be that despicable insect and plethora of potential pie filling.

I’m not totally useless when it comes to yard chores during the growing months.

I can coax the lawnmower back to life by changing its oil, pumping up it tires and swearing at the battery because it died again during the winter. A trickle charge usually rejuvenates it along with another solemn vow to take it inside before the next snow falls. Hey, it’s a tough thing to remember things like that when the steelhead are running and winter kings prowl the bay.

My lady has gently suggested that the best thing I can do for the garden is to stay away from it and that if I ever tried to write a column about domestic husbandry, I couldn’t complete a sentence. She’s wrong. I couldn’t start one.

She prefers that I fish. So, as we cloud-surf through the first days of May, I’m gearing up to gear up. Fresh line, oiled reels, a new triple secret bait and, lastly, a pole with a full complement of eyelets.

Not everything has gone smoothly. When I opened one of my tackle boxes last night, I immediately inquired if she needed any more compost for her flower pots. Her reply isn’t printable and it took about an hour to air out the basement.

Forgotten bait herring don’t do well while aging in a closed repository. Neither do sardine strips or salmon roe. I’m not quite sure if the local landfill will accept my humble offering but, if not, maybe I’ll set it on a bank somewhere and let one of the thieving goons that roam the area during the summer abscond with the treasure. It shouldn’t be hard to track them down. I figure they’ll be unconscious for several hours after opening it.

As for now, I still have to pick up my king harvest card, sharpen the fillet knives and await the big, mid-May, tides to lay out my first ambush for the returning chinooks.

One challenge remains. I need to remember to focus during the pre-dawn hours as I maneuver out to the access road. I’ve hit that Sika Rose bush at the end of the driveway so many times, my spouse has nicknamed it Goodyear.

Like I said, the only way I get along with plants is if they are a side dish.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t struggling with another alien life form in his backup tackle box.

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