Best Bets

Admiring the robin flitting from branch to branch, flirting with berries and plucking the abundance, one may sometimes feel envious at the simplicity of their lives.

From our earth-bound perspective the robins, Steller’s jays or chickadees around us have a charming and rustic occupation that lacks the conflict of our own, more sophisticated, human dilemmas. Imagine the joy inspired in someone if, after begrudgingly arriving to work, they were told their only tasks for the day were to collect a couple worms and enjoy the feeling of air beneath their wings.

Besides the confusion about how to quickly acquire the wings, I’m sure most average citizens would enjoy this proposal. After all, a day spent outside in the presence of nature pursuing a seemingly simple goal is what so many of us Alaskans enjoy. Think of our free days spent climbing mountains, chasing antlers, and staring at the ocean with a fishing pole.

Obviously, much of our daily work can seem much more tedious than that. Staring at an inbox full of words scanning for an email from a business affiliate doesn’t feel the same as scanning the raspberry bushes to see if any gems still remain.

So what is the approach to overcome this envy? Do we simply resign, accepting that the birds lead a far more noble life in their simple pursuits? Or do we ascend, claiming that the complexity of our human situations are far superior to anything a non-human animal could experience?

Is it worth levelling the playing field, saying that the bird perhaps has a whole slew of nuance which we don’t perceive? Or that our own lives are, in a way, just as simple as the robin who jolts about the red elderberry trees?

The Betster doesn’t have an answer. There are stories, however.

Recently at Chez Betster a Steller’s jay made himself at home. Somehow one of the mohawk-sporting blue birds flew through an open door of the house, was stuck inside, and repeatedly, unfortunately, attempted to exit through a glass pane which would not budge.

Thankfully, with sweet talking and a towel, the bird was redirected towards the door, quickly flying away after its sojourn into Alaska home life.

A few days later, perhaps as a gesture of apology for the confusion, the Betster’s porch was transformed into a serving plate, with shelled peanuts being spread as a buffet. It wasn’t long before a jay came to begin collecting the bounty, carrying the nuts off into the woods to its personal storage chest.

What can be drawn from these stories?

While there is no way of comparing the quality of my life from that of the birds around me, we can at least be certain about one thing: the birds exist in their way, and I in mine, and our lives are in relationship, more closely joined than we sometimes imagine.

To fill your free time with the enjoyment of a bird gathering peanuts, check out these Best Bets:

BEST DAY BY DAY BET: Recovery Month continues, with these events happening through next week:

■ Recovery Movie Night at Homer Theatre with community discussion on Thursday, Sept. 15.

■ Recovery Walk at SPARC with SPH staff and ATR volunteers on Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 6-7 p.m.

■ Discovering Recovery monthly community discussion, on Friday, Sept. 23 from noon-1 p.m.

■ SVT Thriving Thursday: Recovery potluck meal and community discussion on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6-8 p.m.

BEST HURRAH BET: In celebration of the remodeled and rebuilt Kachemak City Park, a grand opening runs noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the park in Kachemak City at Bear Creek Drive and East End Road.

The celebration includes live music by Silas Jones from noon-1 p.m. and the Pipeline Vocal Project from 2-3 p.m. There will be a bouncy house, hot dogs, fire truck tours, a bookmobile and massages. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

BEST FOR THE BIRDS BET: The fishing season has wound down on the Spit, and to keep birds and other critters from getting entangled in monofilament line, the Kachemak Bay Birders and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge hold Monofilament Fishline Cleanup Day at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Hole from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Meet at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Hole on the Spit. Bags will be provided, but bring your own gloves. Volunteers also will pick up trash to go in a separate bag. Fishline placed will be recycled through a Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies program, Reel In and Recycle. Volunteer also can pick fishline on another day and place it in the fishline receptacle (the white tube that looks like a periscope) when you are finished. For more information call the clean-up leader, Jim Herbert, at 907-362-0020. This event complies with wildlife refuge COVID-19 safe practices. Cleaning up fishline helps prevents bird from becoming entangled and dying unnecessarily.

BEST GET GEARED UP: Need some new to you toys, clothes, gear and equipment for the kiddos? Save some money at the The Sprout Shwop. Sprout Family Services and the City of Homer hold the swap meet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Homer High School Commons. Join other families with young children, trade your items and find the right gear for your little ones. Bring your gently used toys, clothes, gear, and equipment for children 0-5 years, and get ready to swap those items for the sizes that best fit your children. The day also kicks off National Diaper Awareness week. If you have any unopened diapers that you’d like to donate to Sprout’s safe diapering program bring them to the Shwop, For more information, call Sprout at 907-235-6044 or email

BEST ALL THE WORLD BET: The 4th Annual Alaska World Arts Festival continues with live and virtual workshops, performances and presentations by Alaska, national and international artists showcasing comedy, dance, literature, music, storytelling, theatre and visual arts. Coming up are these events:

Backstage with Legends, Friday, Sept. 16, 7-9 p.m. live on Zoom and KBBI. Firsthand stories of iconic music superstars told by Prodigy bassist, producer and Grammy winner Larry Klein; Homer’s Jim Stearns who toured with the Grateful Dead; Musician/comedian Steve Moris who spent four decades as the opening act for the Beach Boys; music industry veteran and storyteller Leo Rossi who toured with Fleetwood Mac, the Who, and others. A free event on and Zoom, .

Fire Sculpture, Sunday, Sept. 18, 7:45 p.m., Dean Family Farm, 40374 Waterman Road. Participants will meet at The Dean Gallery for a special preview of their September Exhibit, then gather at the fire ring as the sun sets to ignite a wooden fire sculpture.