Unhinged Alaska: Slip slidin’ away

Can you feel it yet? There is definitely something different about nature’s pulse and the actions of her minions.

It started several weeks back while I was embroiled in a territorial dispute with another insufferable woodpecker rehearsing drum riffs on our cabin’s logs.

It had been a while since I had run one off and didn’t think much about it until a small flock of young feral pheasants sauntered out of the brush to encourage the $#^*@%!+>&.

I was surprised by their size, especially since they were some hen’s second brood of the summer and were on the verge of being able to launch over rather than skulk through the flora.

I won the skirmish when the pile-driving beak with feathers suddenly decided to jet after he spotted what looked to be an enraged Sasquatch storming his way wielding a Wiffle bat and snarling epithets that would mortify a Delta Force training instructor.

As I reveled in my victory, it hit me. Here we go again, slip slidin’ away toward the colorful kaleidoscopes of fall and the chilly white sheets soon to follow.

The sandhill cranes have sensed the increasing tardiness of the morning glow on the back slopes of the mountains along with the earlier gloaming of dying days and have engaged their fledged colts in flight formation training.

The signs are all around us. Fishing activity has begun to wane because school has started and tourists have been easing south in caravans of mongo motor homes featuring side-outs that could serve as alternative launch platforms for Predator drones.

August has brought a mixture of schizophrenic weather patterns. The remnants of exhausted typhoons have churned through, proclaiming their arrival via the murmur of whispering leaves that transformed into a cacophony of chattering branches, groaning trunks, and twisting crowns as their storm winds peaked.

Their advents did not bode well for my wife’s stately lilies, pompous peonies and matronly dahlias.

She had been able to handle the month’s gloomy skies and snit fits rather well until she stepped outside one afternoon after Ma Nature had dispatched a retinue of sniveling squalls through the region escorted by caterwauling tempests that goaded the pendulous clouds into releasing a skyborne tsunami.

I certainly can’t repeat what I heard as she looked down upon her flower garden but I will admit my dust up with the woodpecker and resultant colorful aspersions referencing his questionable lineage and personal hygiene habits didn’t come close to the scandalous invectives she hurled aloft.

I tried doing some research on the meaning of a few of them then realized they were probably coined at the peak of her pique never to be heard again. That’s probably a good thing, if one wants to ignore how fast the skies cleared up.

The changing axial tilt of the earth will bring on further shifts as seasonal vendors commence shutting down and once congested fishing destinations become quieter than a mid-winter nudist beach in Unalaska.

In any case, it really doesn’t matter who or what is doing what. It was an impressive summer but time drifts on and darker days cometh.

We all realize that the approach of fall portends sweeping transformations. The Katmai bears have put on more tonnage than Sumo wrestlers with an eating disorder and the NFL preseason is, once again, going through its motions of hopeful relevance.

Fireweed patches are desperately trying to cling to their last bit of luster before topping off with a ragged display of seedy dander soon to be propelled by a gentle breeze-sneeze of air.

There are positives. It no longer takes part of an eon to turn left into traffic and heading to Anchorage is more a scenic drive rather than a survival run.

Yes, the daylight intervals are compressing. I now have to wear a headlamp to take our aging diminutive rescue mutt out much earlier for her early morning delicates because as the grey on her muzzle increases so do her urges. That’s OK, she’d do the same for me except the cur would pilfer my treat, the miscreant little $^3+.

Thankfully, there is still a profusion of fishing left to do with silvers making their runs up the rivers and streams along with those nasty cage fighter steelhead. Thus, there is an abundance of excuses left for not jumping, Xtratuffs first, into the toils and tribulations of winterization projects, just yet.

We’ll discuss those onerous requirements at a later date but well before the snow flies.

I made that mistake just once 15 years ago and Jane still has the pictures of me slogging through drifts in the back 40 with a metal detector searching for missing lawn tools and a highly valued tackle box.

There’s no question that our aging summer is slip slidin’ away but this time I’m on it.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com and wants to thank Paul Simon for his rendition of Slip Slidin’ Away that gave him the idea for this column. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUODdPpnxcA

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