Though the world remains in flux as all of us cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, apparently nobody told the natural world. Our four-legged and winged friends have been carrying on nicely without us. No one sent them the memo that they might get infected by a rare novel coronavirus. OK, some do get infected by coronaviruses, like bats, but most of the planet’s critters seem to be doing just peachy.
You don’t see moose with facemasks. You don’t see bears sheltering in place, not in spring as they emerge from their dens hungry and grumpy after their hibernation. And the birds … the birds have come back more or less on time.
On walks outside the Fortress of Solitude, the Betster remembers why spring is so fantabulous. Each walk brings a new call, like the telephone ring of the varied thrush or the honking of cackling Canada geese. While everyone on the Spit Saturday seemed to be engaged in acts of rebellion or just cruising on the bike trail, the Betster went to look for birds.
Out on the Mariner Park Slough a flock of about a dozen cacklers fed in the mud, with a few greater white-fronted geese thrown in for color with their splashy orange feet. No, the Betster does not know why they aren’t called splashy orange footed geese. That would be too obvious.
Over at the upper end of Beluga Lake by the airport, the Betster looked for returning shorebirds. Sure enough, several greater yellowlegs (see? they have the right name) fed in the mud. You can pretty much set your calendar by yellowlegs. If it’s around Tax Day, they’ll be here.
One yellowlegs tried valiantly to swallow a little trout. With its long beak it caught the fish right across the belly. You’d think that would be the hard part. No, the hard part is flipping it around so it slides vertically down the bird’s throat.
That’s a lesson, the Betster supposes. Even to swallow life can be a struggle. So buck up, kids, and work through this challenge. You can do it, and when you need a rest, relax with maybe some of these Best Bets:
BEST IT’S A DATE BET: If you’ve looked at our online calendar, you may have noticed that pretty much everything is either out of date since so many events have been postponed or canceled, or things have been moved into the virtual world. Our good friends in Alcoholics Anonymous are there to help people find their way back to sobriety, for example. The Homer Unity Group meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight and Friday in a Zoom conference. Visit www.aahomer.org for details on how to join.
BEST BREAK BREAD BET: Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced some changes in the health mandate that will allow a wee bit more contact, but at press time we don’t have all the details. We’ll do an online story or you can visit https://covid19.alaska.gov/health-mandates for all the skinny. Meanwhile, the Homer Senior Center and the Anchor Point Senior Center offer take-out meals. Pick up a meal, check in with your friends via some sort of online chat, and share a meal together, even if it’s only through the magic of the Internet. See the Town Crier section on page 10 for more information.
BEST BE SAFE BET: This is just a reminder that whatever you do, as social distancing get relaxed and the numbers of COVID-19 cases go down, that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. Follow all the procedures — you know the drill. Wear your mask when out. Wash your hands. Avoid close contact with people outside your household. If you have symptoms, it’s now easier to get tested. See details in Town Crier. Whatever you do, if you feel sick, get checked out and stay home.