Springtime in Alaska

It’s springtime in Alaska and, thanks to global warming, it’s not 40 below. In fact, defying all conventional wisdom, I plan to have my studded snow tires removed this week. I’m going to take a walk on the wild side and live a little dangerously.  I’m going to drive in Anchorage in March on regular treads.

I realize that the last time I did this, we were visited with more than two foot of snow overnight.  But I couldn’t have gotten out of my garage to drive anywhere anyhow so what good would studded snow tires have done me? 

No, if that is god’s way of showing me why I shouldn’t have my tires changed out before mid-April, I say it’s not going to work. When there is two foot of snow outside, there should be no one out there who doesn’t have to be.  We should all be inside with fires roaring and a good book by our side.

In Barrow, springtime meant that you could now see the snow and ice because the sun was back. And even when the snow finally melted sometime in May and June, it only denoted the reappearance of an extraordinary amount of dust every time a car went by and a tundra that renewed itself without any help from me.

But here in Anchorage, once the sun is back and the snow has receded, I see the sad, bedraggled, seemingly lifeless plants that once grew so bravely in my yard.  And my maternal instincts kick in with a vengeance. I want to save them. I want them to be happy again. I want their little heads to be lifted up with bright color and vibrancy. But I’d like to do all that without actually having to go into the dirt and encountering any critters who call the outside home.

This poses somewhat of a problem since mosquitoes, bees, flies, worms and other creepy crawlers seem to have laid some claim to the outdoors.  I guess they feel if I can be so darn possessive of the indoors – never inviting them in and if they inadvertently invite themselves in, chasing them out while making high pitched squealing sounds – then they can claim the outdoors and treat me in the same way when I invade their territory.

And so spring and summer put me in a quandary.  I love to see the sun. I love to see the light. I adore it when my plants blossom and my shrubs and trees burst out in varying shades of green. I just don’t want to have to get up close and personal with Mother Nature to make it happen.

My garden is lucky in that it has found a fairy godmother in my friend Leslie’s mother Pat.  Pat is one of those wonder workers who wanders through a garden with a smile on her face, a rake in her hand and a whistle on her lips. She is able to encounter various flying and crawling critters without dropping everything and running screaming into the night.  She seems to know just what plant needs a little extra love and attention, which need a little more or less sunlight or water and which are terribly happy just as they are and so will bloom with amazing fertility.

Every garden should have someone like Pat who will not only love it but be willing to actually go into it and work.  Me, I spent too many years in Barrow to be comfortable doing that. I’m told that someday I will wake up and walk out into a warm, sunlit world and feel perfectly ok.  Perhaps.  But not in the immediate future.

For the immediate future, I am still a Barrowite at heart. When the sun comes out and shines its brightest, I feel it should be frigidly cold with nothing moving through the air except the early snowbirds and nothing crawling on the ground except lemmings. 

Oh yes, and fair warning to all my friends. Pat actually did something to my raspberry bushes last year that will make them even more prolific this year. So, just as in Barrow we emptied our ice cellars in spring in anticipation of fresh whale, I’d suggest you all dump the 18 pounds of raspberries I gave you last summer and get ready for fresh ones.

And there’s no use in hiding from me. I have no qualms about leaving the bag on your doorstep where the bears can find it.