• Mavis Muller, left, directs a crew of volunteer artists Monday at construction of this year's Burning Basket, Expand, at Mariner Park.

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.

Meanwhile, not having received the memo about fall, several flowering plants have decided to bloom again, like irises, roses and lilacs. Flowers in early September. Of course.

Things have been so weird that the other day the Betster easily got suckered by a guy saying, “Hey, look, snow up on the ridge.” The Betster glanced up. OK, the B can be a bit gullible, but these days, it wouldn’t be odd to snow in September at high altitudes. Gray is the new black and strange is the new normal.

Will it ever happen that an Alaska season will shift nice and smoothly, with just a week of rain, some glorious colors, a dusting of snow way up there on Poot Peak, and a cold snap to remind us it’s time to chop some wood? Dream on, MacDuff. The only thing you can count on is that we always have great things to do, like these Best Bets:

BEST SANDY TOES BET: Now that summer’s winding down, it’s time to hit the beaches and clean up trash — and also do an annual check of our shorelines. At 6 p.m. today, grab some chowder and sourdough bread, learn about the program and pick your beach to monitor for the annual Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies CoastWalk.

BEST UP SHE RISES BET: We get a two-fer this weekend with the Homer Halibut Fest and the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival. The halibut and wooden boat fests start off today at 7 p.m. with sea stories and shanties at the Salty Dawg — where else? Bring your favorite tales and sing some classic songs.

BEST THE BEAT GOES ON BET: Don’t forget more halibut and boat festival action with speaker and movie night at 6 p.m. Friday at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, the halibut and wooden boat fest and fish fry 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Spit Fishing Hole Campground, and the big dinner and dance with Rogues and Wenches at 7 p.m. Saturday at Alice’s Champagne Palace. The boat fest includes the always-popular kids’ boat building shed. Oh, and join the Rogues and Wenches from noon-2 p.m. Sunday for a sing-along at the fishing hole. The boat festival also continues Sunday noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

BEST ALWAYS REMEMBER BET: It’s poignant that Hospice of Homer holds its Community Remembrance Gathering on Sunday, Sept. 11. The event from 2-3:30 p.m. at hospice is a time to remember loved ones by planting bulbs in the hospice garden. It’s also a time to honor the victims of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

BEST UNBURDENING BET: Here’s another chance to remember lost loved ones as well as release burdens of the heart and celebrate creativity and imagination — the annual Burning Basket. The build continues today-Sunday at Mariner Park, and at 1 p.m. Sunday this year’s basket, Expand, is presented as a gift to the community. Visitors are invited to leave notes on the basket and walk the labyrinth. At sunset the basket is lit and transformed into light.


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