Some of you seemed surprised recently when a big howling rainstorm blew in over town last week. Whoa! How did that happen? Well, it happened because a) it’s September in Alaska and b) also moose hunting season. The whole idea of moose hunting season seems to be to pick a time of the year when hunters most likely will get drenched by a cold, miserable rain.
Once again we enter our usual fall topsy-turvy universe. Some things seem to be going as planned. At the end of Labor Day, half the shops on the Spit closed. On the other hand, on Tuesday, the cruise ship Maasdam visited — and she’ll be back Sept. 20 for a final visit.
Out on Beluga Slough, for the past week more than 100 sandhill cranes have been massing together ready to fly south. Getting together to leave doesn’t seem out of the ordinary, though conventional wisdom has it the cranes leave about the fall equinox. Also ganging up are robins and varied thrushes. Stay tuned.
The other night while hanging with visiting friends and relatives, the Betster had an awesome idea for a Best Bets column. Alas, despite carrying a pen and notepad, the Betster forgot to write down that thought. It came about from a conversation in which Aunt Ellen asked why Alaska roads had so few road kill. The Best Bets idea disappeared like a fat raven dragging a porcupine off into the weeds.
We all know visitors come to Homer for our scenery, our art, our fish and the way neat people who live here. Apparently Homer has a new attraction. It’s cool.
Hurrah! Congratulations, Betsters. You’ve survived the big August primary election. After weeks of debates, robocalls, push polls and campaign mailings, the big dramarama is over. Now that the election is over, you can look on the bright side. All those fliers should make good kindling in the woodstove when it starts cooling off in about, oh, two weeks. Also, hard working graphic artists, printers and telemarketers got a little extra income.
If you’ve been paying attention to nature lately, you might have noticed that all the little birds born last spring have grown up. Over at the ever-popular Lake Street stoplight eagle nest, some eagle triplets have poked their heads out of their twig home. Sandhill crane colts have been strutting around town, stretching out their legs. Out on Beluga Lake, a slate-gray cygnet is learning the finer points of swan feeding.
Why is it that just when you get into the groove of summer it starts to end? The signs are plenty. Look at the month at the top of the page. That’s right: A-u-g-u-s-t. The Kachemak Bay Campus course catalog arrived recently in the mail, too, with reminders of cool stuff to learn. Kids, we won’t even discuss an event looming like a shark. Whatever you do, don’t look at page 6.
For the past two weeks as the Republicans and Democrats have selected their presidential candidates, it has been nonstop political commentary. Hey, it’s a good living if you have a thick skin, a tough stomach and get excited by things like how many superdelegates can dance on the head of a pin. The debate has gotten fierce, too. You’re a poopy pants. No, you’re a big doody head. Your momma wears combat boots. Your papa wears spike heels.
The other day while shopping the Betster noticed a disturbing trend. S-c-h-o-o-l supplies are on sale. For you carefree kids enjoying your summer holiday with nothing more taxing than maybe mowing the family lawn, ruh-roh. S-c-h-o-o-l is just around the corner.
Holy three-hole punch! The thing whose name we shall not speak starts in a month. It will be back to the books, kiddos. Not that you should have abandoned reading, but we’re talking “Silas Marner” and not “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — stuff you’ll be forced to read and not just plain fun.
Remember in winters past when it snowed so much you had to keep a snow shovel inside the front door to get out in the morning? That’s how the Betster feels with this summer’s explosion of green. To keep a decent lawn, you have to mow at least once a week — sometimes twice a week. Holy Tropicana!
Recently in the newsroom we got talking about an issue once not a problem in Homer: traffic. OK, we might have had some traffic back when all those horse teams tried to round Bluff Point on an incoming tide. We’re talking modern traffic, like this week, and the ordeals we must endure trying to drive from downtown to the Spit.
Here’s the problem of living in a small town that grows by a few hundred people in the summer. For most of the year we hang out with folks we’ve come to know and sort of tolerate — maybe even love. It’s not that our neighbors are necessarily wonderful human beings, but that over time we have learned all their quirks and foibles.
While driving home to Chez Betster, yours truly passed a caravan of Land Rover campers with French flag decals that looked like they had come from Patagonia. In fact, as the Betster later found out after catching up with the campers on the Spit, one family had driven to Homer from the other end of the world, way down there in South America.
Thursday, June 23
PRE-K PUFFINS EARLY LEARNING PROGRAM
10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center
ESTUARY HIKES AT ISLANDS AND OCEAN
11 a.m.-noon, Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center
YOGA FOR KIDS
11 a.m.-noon, Homer Public Library
noon, 8 p.m., Hillas Building
3D PRINTING CLASSES: WEARABLE ART
12:30 p.m., Homer Makerspace
RANGER TALK: ‘BEAR VIEWING-FUN OR FOLLY?’
1-1:30 p.m., Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center
SUMMER MAKER CAMP @ HPL
If you lived in Homer on Dec. 21 and wondered where the heck all that daylight had gone, cheer up. You’ve found it. All those photons apparently crawled forward in time and landed on Tuesday, June 21. We’ll get a whopping 18 hours and 44 minutes then, or as they call it in Barrow, “a good start.”
Forget the cruise ship passengers, the foreign adventurers and the production staffs of Alaska’s 47 reality TV shows. As most Alaskans know, the real backbone of the visitor industry can be summed up in three initials: V, F and R. That’s ‘visiting friends and relatives,’ the people you know who live in the Lower 49 who just have to come up and see you.
There might have been the usual kerfuffles, but pat yourselves on the backs, Homerites. You survived the Memorial Day weekend and the traditional opening of the summer tourist season and the temporary occupation by southbound Alaskans and visitors. It looked like most everyone on the Spit found a camping spot. Others weren’t so lucky when it came to finding parking, or at least close-in parking. The Betster felt sad to disappoint one guy who thought the B. would be moving the Betstermobile on Saturday afternoon. Sorry, dude — I was only going to get my rain jacket.
Recently one of our hard working reporters took a vacation to Paris. Sacre bleu! It’s a good thing the International Herald Tribune wasn’t hiring or we would have lost the poor guy to the City of Lights. He’s been talking of sidewalk cafes, awesome museums, incredible monuments, quaint little side streets, and, of course, cheese, wine and chocolate.
The Shorebird Festival goers have come and gone after the weekend, during which they enjoyed temperatures in the mid-60s, bright sunshine and sparkling water in Kachemak Bay. Whether you were out birding or, like the Betster, soaking up the sun and watching the birders get excited over things with wings and funny names, this weekend was a great prequel to a warm, light-filled summer season.
The birds have been back in town for a couple of weeks, surely but surely arriving in time for Homer’s celebration of their existence. Now it’s our turn to show up on the shores, binoculars and cameras in hand, to pay our respects to the many species of incredible wildlife that choose to spend their summer with us. Whether you’re on the hunt for a peek at your first puffin or feel like staring down a crane in a lagoon, the weekend is chock full of great opportunities and lots of wonderful people to share them with.