Columns 2006

We, the soggy, salute the damp

It is the 500th day of rain this year in Anchorage.  People are starting to look grim.  Mold and mildew are growing in the most unimaginable spots on animals and humans alike. When the sun occasionally breaks through the clouds, people react with horror at the bright yellow dot in the sky. What could it be?

This is not a good turn of events in a town where concealed weapons are as prevalent as lattes at Caf� Loco.  You want people who are carrying concealed weapons to be happy most of the time, not damp. 

Each morning, my little dog heads for the door to go out for his morning ablutions.  He has a wistfully hopeful demeanor as I open the door. Then his head immediately droops as he realizes that once again he’s going to get cold and wet. After staring forlornly at the rain for a minute, he turns around and heads for the other door in the vain hope that perhaps it won’t be raining on that side of the house.  But it always is. 

At this point, it takes a gentle shove on his butt to get him to go out into it and not just squat in the doorway…though there are some days when I think that would be a perfectly acceptable indication of how the day was making us both feel.

I realize that I live in Anchorage now and not Barrow and so must come to expect a lot of rain.  But really, enough is enough.  I have mushrooms growing on my walls – and that’s inside my house. Where I used to have lawn, I now have mold and moss.  Plants that should have bloomed about two months ago are just now putting out flowers. They simply hadn’t seen enough sun to set their blooming clocks correctly.  Or maybe they were just too depressed to bloom.

Here is my real fear, though. What if we have another of those winters?  You know the ones I’m referring to. The winters where it rains and rains and rains and then freezes and freezes and freezes and we drive and walk on ice thick enough to handle an ice hockey game. What snow does fall is quickly intimidated into submission by the torrential rains that continue to pour from the sky through December and January and February…through all those months when it is our god given right to have snow for skiing and snowmobiling and Christmas.

The only good thing that has ever come out of one of those wet, freezing winters was the pain meds I got when I fell on the ice at the end of my driveway.  I had parked the car just a few steps from the mailbox thinking I could safely walk the three feet to it. I was wrong.  My feet went up and my entire body came down on the ice with a head shattering smash.

I remember lying there on the ice, getting colder and colder, unable to move, screaming “Call 911” at the top of my lungs and thinking how odd it would be to die like that.  Here I had survived thirty years in the Arctic, including numerous camping trips with Big Sam in which he often had not a clue where we were or how we would get back, and yet now I was going to die at the end of my driveway in Anchorage during a winter that didn’t even have the decency to have snow.  It was truly one of the most depressing moments in my life.

I soon figured out there was no one else anywhere around in my neighborhood so screaming “911” was a waste of time and energy. And eventually I was able to pull myself to my car and find a friend to take me to the emergency room. While there, I was told they were seeing a lot of falls like mine. Then, they gave me pills to take the edge off till my ribs decided to return to their normal position. Thanks to those pills, I can honestly say I stopped caring about the rain and ice at that point.

I’m not sure I could face another ice filled winter like that.  The darkness seems darker without snow.  The daylight seems shorter without the white to brighten it up.  I feel as though we have become Juneau, and that’s not a good thing. 

In fact, at this point, they might as well move the capitol here.  It’s not as though even our legislature could make things worse. I mean, seriously, you can’t insult the soggy.  They are too tired and wet and damp to care.