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

Achieving the crispy, flaky layers of golden goodness of a croissant require precision and skill. (Photo by Tresa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Reaching the pinnacle of patisserie

Croissants take precision and skill, but the results can be delightful

This 1940s-era image is one of few early photographs of Cliff House, which once stood near the head of Tustumena Lake. (Photo courtesy of the Secora Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 1

Here, then, is the story of Cliff House, as least as I know it now.

Minister’s Message: What’s in a name?

The Scriptures advise, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Visitors put on personal protective equipment before an artist talk by Dr. Sami Ali' at the Jan. 7, 2022, First Friday opening of her exhibit, "The Mind of a Healthcare Worker During the COVID-19 Pandemic," at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
ER doctor’s paintings follow passage of pandemic

Dr. Sami Ali made 2019 resolution to paint every day — and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Almond flour adds a nuttiness to this carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A ‘perfect day’ cake

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting make for a truly delicious day off

Minister’s Message: A prayer pulled from the ashes

“In that beleaguered and beautiful land, the prayer endures.”

A copy of “The Year of Magical Thinking” by author Joan Didion is displayed on an e-reader. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” is a timely study on grief

‘The last week of 2021 felt like a good time to pick up one of her books.’

Megan Pacer / Homer News
Artist Asia Freeman, third from left, speaks to visitors on Nov. 1, 2019, at a First Friday art exhibit opening at Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer.
Freeman wins Governor’s Arts Humanities Award

Bunnell Street Arts Center artistic director is one of nine honored.

Zirrus VanDevere’s pieces are displayed at the Kenai Art Center on Jan. 4, 2022. (Courtesy Alex Rydlinski)
A journey of healing

VanDevere mixes shape, color and dimension in emotional show

Traditional ingredients like kimchi, ramen and tofu are mixed with American comfort food Spam in this hearty Korean stew. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Warm up with army base stew

American soldiers introduced local cooks to some American staple ingredients of the time: Spam and hotdogs.

Peninsula Crime: Bad men … and dumb ones — Part 2

Here, in Part Two and gleaned from local newspapers, are a few examples of the dim and the dumb.

Minister’s Message: What if Christ had not been born?

It is now time to look at the work and life of Jesus Christ.