Unhinged Alaska: When the cranes split, chaos ensues

Last Sunday morning while I was deeply engrossed in a Don Wilson’s novel called “The Cartel,” my bride suddenly burst through the front door and shouted, “Cranes!”

Our startled little diva mutt went feline and tried to climb the interior logs while the colossal cur opened one eye and farted.

I, on the other hand, would have reflected true cool if I hadn’t just commenced to take a cautious sip of freshly ground and steaming French vanilla coffee.

Regrettably, I subsequently added to the uproar by bellowing something about boiling nether regions while bopping around like fire ants were using me as a free-range buffet. Not even close to any kind of cool.

Things calmed down quickly once I realized my sweats had saved me from assuming a bowlegged stance for the duration the looming NFL game instead of my routine couch sprawl and ferret-swift response time to snack and beverage calls.

Mini-mutt was rescued from the bar top and odor boy was back to sleep before my rather colored commentary of the event abated.

In fact, the entire kerfuffle was forgotten when we stepped onto the deck.

The sky was filled with armadas of sandhill cranes signaling their goodbyes with cacophony choruses of rolling bugle cries.

They came in random waves throughout the morning until a one last echoing call faded into the mountains above the Fox River answered only by a melancholy trill from solitary loon.

The spectacle has always served us as a serious signal to commence our pre-prep for the days when the dawn’s dew abruptly morphs into a substance that has launched many a butt into a poorly performed triple axel and face plant during a routine morning paper retrieval.

We had good intentions about getting a jump on projects even before the cranes stuck their beaks into our airspace but persistent rains waterlogged the area so much that, when a short dry spell finally rolled in, it was more like harvesting than cutting the grass and we came close to having the clippings baled.

Hopefully, the greensward will start its slumber after this last mowing and we won’t be caught like last year when we waited so long that we were hit with a sudden cold snap and came within a half of a day of having to plow the lawn to get the last cutting finished.

The recent downpours have also caused some problems with the behavioral patterns of our indigenous wildlife. It seems that they now find it much more convenient to roam our drained acreage than slog through whatever muddy environs that have been annoying them.

Coyotes trot through the backyard and down the driveway making happy meals out of ditch paddling shrews while hoping to upgrade their repast with a delectable side dish of clueless pheasant soaking under the adjacent alders.

A ninja moose has infiltrated the wife’s dwindling flower garden during the closed fist darkness of night. It has trimmed some of her pink wild roses, red morning lilies and taken a nosh or two off the Sitka bush while insolently ignoring a horde of Forget Me Nots.

It has also managed to hose off the tops of our neighbor’s young apple trees and taciturnly flossed its molars with his experimental grape vines.

The beast slipped back twice to wreak further havoc and has been taciturnly awarded the nickname, “Stewmeat” by our neighbor who mumbled something about looking up a buddy to see if his cow permit is still valid. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile Autumn has officially planted its banners on the mountains and bluffs about us.

Gold leaf laden trees dot the ravines shimmering like caches of nuggets when the sun breaks through and vast swaths of spawned out fireweed blanket the hills in a reddish patina of dormancy. So, it’s time to kick things up a notch.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll prioritize the pre-prep tasks yet but there’s still time to ponder and plan.

As for now, I’ll schedule work on a comprehensive strategy for the chores during the Seahawk’s halftime break unless they play like recently purged members of a senior’s center flag football team again. If so, I’ll winterize the truck. More action that way.

Whatever I decide to do, it better be timely.

I can’t imagine the look on my lady’s face if she has to hand me a snow shovel again so I can find the lawnmower. It wasn’t very pleasant the first time around.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t hounding an ungulate the size of a small SUV out of the berry bushes while his guard mutts cheer him on from the deck.

More in Life

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling.
A light meal to fuel fun family outings

This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling

Christ Lutheran Church Pastor Meredith Harber displays necklaces featuring the cross in this undated photo. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Interwoven together for good

I hope that we can find that we have more in common than we realize

Virgil Dahler photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive
This aerial view from about 1950 shows Jack Keeler’s home on his homestead east of Soldotna. The stream to the left is Soldotna Creek, and the bridge across the stream probably allowed early access to the Mackey Lakes area. The road to the right edge of the photo leads to the Sterling Highway.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 6

“Most of those homesteaders won’t last”

A sign points to the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Art Center accepting submissions for ‘Medieval Forest’

The deadline to submit art is Saturday at 5 p.m.

People identifying as Democrats and people identifying as Republicans sit face to face during a workshop put on by Braver Angels in this screenshot from “Braver Angels: Reuniting America.” (Screenshot courtesy Braver Angels)
KPC lecture series to feature film and discussion about connecting across political divide

“Braver Angels: Reuniting America” is a nonpartisan documentary about a workshop held in the aftermath of the 2016 election of Donald Trump

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This basil avocado dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous — great for use on bitter greens like kale and arugula.
Memories of basil and bowling with Dad

This dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger
Don and Verona pose inside their first Soldotna grocery store in 1952, the year they opened for business.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 5

By 1952, the Wilsons constructed a simple, rectangular, wood-frame building and started the town’s first grocery

Minister’s Message: Finding freedom to restrain ourselves

We are free to speak at a higher level of intelligence

Dancers rehearse a hula routine at Diamond Dance Project near Soldotna on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moving into magic

Diamond Dance Project all-studio concert puts original spin on familiar stories

Most Read