If visitors to the 21st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival thought they might have been skunked last Thursday with relatively few western sandpipers showing up, all they had to do was wait a day.
From upscale white tablecloth restaurants to take-out sandwich shops, Homer’s creative chefs have been crafting a cuisine that, for lack of a better term, could simply be called Homer Style. It’s a food culture distinguished by an emphasis on wild seafood and locally grown vegetables, many from local high-tunnel greenhouses, mixed with a variety of styles from fusion to French.
For scientists to connect to citizens, it’s as easy as A-B-T.
On April 17 at the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership’s Science Symposium, keynote speaker Randy Olson tossed out a new approach to scientists. Rather than just laying out the facts, scientists should inspire people with something elemental to the human experience — stories.
“The public’s not interested in science,” Olson said. “The number one thing the general public is interested in is other human beings.”
The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival featured artists have much in common in their choice of subject — shorebirds, of course — but Mary Bee Kaufman, this year’s featured artist, stands out among them in one way: She’s the only featured artist to have an Alaska peak named after her.
It’s that mountain that brought Kaufman up to Alaska.
The 21st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival has started with a junior birders discovery lab held Wednesday morning. The festival kicks into gear today with a spread of events, starting at 12:01 a.m. this morning with the Big Spit Plus Birding Challenge, a three-day event spread over the festival, challenging birding teams to spot as many species as possible, but without the one-day rush of previous versions of the contest.
The Homer City Council at its 6 p.m. Monday meeting holds a public hearing and could act on proposed changes to zoning regulations and maps for the Homer Spit. Citizens can speak on two ordinances, 13-11(s) and 13-12, during the public hearing portion of the agenda.
The ordinance adds these activities as permitted uses in the Marine Commercial District, generally the area around the harbor:
• Accessory lodging, that is, apartments or rental rooms as part of building use such as fishing charter offices;
In a photo on her Facebook page, Marissa Paul, a 2011 Homer High School graduate, holds a shiny curved bone. It looks like the kind of bone beachcombers might find along Kachemak Bay from a moose or bear.
Paul, however, got the bone from a place closer to her heart — about six inches up toward her shoulder bone.
It’s her rib.
“The birds are always out there waiting for us to notice them,” said Jeffrey Gordon, this year’s keynote speaker at the 21st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival.
Gordon, 48, is the president of the American Birding Association based in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will be welcomed to Homer at a reception with featured author Philip Hoose from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Land’s End Resort. At 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mariner Theatre, Gordon presents his keynote talk, “Birding Together.”
An Anchor Point man arrested last week for a shooting incident faces a new charge after he allegedly tried to escape from the Homer Jail two days later. A Kenai grand jury last week indicted Niko Mogar, 22, for attempted second-degree escape. It also indicted him and his co-defendant, Christopher Murphy, 24, also of Anchor Point, for second-degree weapons misconduct.
Some nations celebrate the start of May with Beltane, the Celtic festival marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstices. Other countries consider May Day as labor day, the day to honor workers. In Homer, we get down and dirty the first Saturday of May with our annual Cleanup Day as local volunteers pick up trash and recyclables all over town and wherever it emerges from breakup.
With a month to the June 3 deadline for turning in petitions, a citizen initiative to repeal Homer’s plastic bag ban as of this week has collected more than half the 230 signatures needed to get the initiative on the October ballot.
Organizers need 25 percent of the ballots cast last October, said Justin Arnold, 27, the initiative organizer. As of Tuesday, Arnold, who is recovering from a broken collarbone, said sponsors had gathered about 150 signatures from registered Homer voters.
If the print edition of today’s Homer News had scratch ’n’ sniff ink, an eau de Homer this spring would have a recipe like this:
• Start with a generous dose of wet dog;
• Add a sprinkle of sewage sludge;
• Toss in a dead sea otter;
• Throw in that yucky black stuff at the bottom of an unturned compost heap;
• Marinade in fresh horse manure, and
• Let stand in a sealed 5-gallon bucket.
As hundreds of geese, dozens of cranes and a few shorebirds descended on Homer last weekend, and with the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival happening next week, it seems natural that this Friday’s art openings should feature art of birds and wildlife. Festival artist and naturalist MaryBee Kaufman has a show, “The Art of Birds,” at the Fireweed Gallery. At Ptarmigan Arts, another naturalist artist, Kristin Link of Girdwood and McCarthy, shows her paintings and field sketches, “Feathers, Stones and Flowers.”
In the grand arc of Mark Robinson’s teaching and musical career, Johannes Brahms’ “Requiem” serves as a personal touchstone from singing it at age 15 in high school choir to conducting it in a new performance this week.
“It’s a long history for me personally,” Robinson said of the choral work.
A huge flock of greater white-fronted geese flew in this weekend over Kachemak Bay, drawing a steady stream of bird watchers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. At Beluga Slough, hundreds of geese fed in the slough, some within yards of the Lake Street path. Along with the greater white-fronted geese could be seen smaller flocks of cackling geese, a species similar to Canada geese but not as large, and snow geese. Shorebirds also can be seen in the slough, including greater yellowlegs.
Show me the money.
While Mayor Beth Wythe and some council members didn't say it in exactly those words, that was the sentiment at Monday night's Homer City Council meeting and council work sessions earlier that night and the previous Monday.
Several items prompted Wythe and others to express an austerity philosophy driven by discussions with Alaska legislators on a recent trip to Juneau and what Wythe sees as overuse of city staff resources. Among them:
In a work session on April 15 and at the Homer City Council meeting Monday night, the council got in a bit of a tussle with the Parks and Recreation Commission over a misunderstanding on the Kachemak Drive nonmotorized path. Last December, the council appropriated $20,000 in a resolution "to determine the cost of the initial one-half mile of the proposed Kachemak Drive Non-motorized Pathway."
At the top of a list of items on the Homer City Council's consent agenda were two items that, if passed, would change the Homer Spit zoning code and allow accessory uses like lodging in the Marine Commercial zoning district. Monday night, those two ordinances, 13-11 and 13-12, were only being introduced, with a public hearing and action scheduled for the May 13 council meeting.
Although the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference won't happen until June 14 to 18 at Land's End Resort, the early registration deadline with discount rates ends at 5 p.m. May 4. Besides, in years when the conference has sold out, many writers have been disappointed who didn't register quickly. Registration continues through June 14 until the conference fills up.
Reading Erin Coughlin Hollowell's first poetry collection, "Pause, Traveler," is like sipping single malt Scotch whisky, with its complicated and subtle tastes. Seasoned in New York and then matured in Alaska, the palate of her poetry evokes the nature writing of Robert Frost, the simplicity of Marianne Moore, the metaphors of Hart Crane, the imagery of Ezra Pound and the pure delight in language of Walt Whitman.
"If you go all the way back, like when I was young, I read Yeats," Hollowell said when told of the analogy. "That list could go on forever."