Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ahhh Spring!

Spring has arrived in Alaska! I know, I know, it’s not technically spring. But spring here is different and I’m telling you it has arrived.
So if not by the calendar, how do we know its spring in Anchorage? First off, spring break is over. We’re in the final stretch of the school year since our kids get out mid-May. Second, the Iditarod winner has crossed under the burled arch in Nome. This means in a couple days my outdoor Christmas lights will be turned off because that happens when the last musher finishes the Iditarod. And finally the snow is beginning to melt revealing all kinds of dirt and nastiness which we will have to endure until it can be washed, swept and scooped up!
Historically – by which I mean the 8 years I’ve lived here – spring has been the hardest time for me. Growing up in the Northwest I was a lover of spring! I love tulips and daffodils, spring showers, the smell of new grass…I could go on forever.
In fact, I love spring so much that I was determined to get married in the spring. So I did. Today, Gary and I are celebrating our 15-year wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to us!
Considering my love for spring, Alaskans will understand my consternation with what I found the season to be when I moved to Anchorage. Frankly, it’s dirty, smelly, slushy and just plain ugly. If you’re planning to visit, don’t visit in the spring. We don’t even like to be here in the spring! Anchorage goes on vacation in the spring and is replaced by its ugly cousin for about two months. So much for my Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsorship – oh well, I speak the truth.
I feel, considering my strong opinion about spring in Anchorage that it’s appropriate to explain some rules that we live by in order to survive it. That way if you find yourself here in the spring, you’ll understand what’s going on. It should give you hope.
First, car washing in the spring can be observed under two methods. Either wash your car every day or don’t wash it at all until the mud on the windows is a safety hazard. I have come to believe that most Anchoragites choose the latter and apply it wholeheartedly.
Secondly, for crying out loud, leave the moose alone! There are more in town than at any other time of year so you’ll have many opportunities to apply this rule. They’re hungry, angry and many are pregnant! This, my friends, is a bad combination in any mammal. Do not, under any circumstances, think that because they aren’t scared of you and they look all soft and fluffy, you should go up and pet them. This is a very bad idea – and yet it seems to happen every year.
Third, invest in light-blocking window coverings. We have reached the time of year that it stays light past your kids’ bedtimes. Don’t give in to the temptation to let them stay up. They have plenty of time to enjoy the midnight sun in the summer. If they refuse, I advocate lying to them, that is if you can figure out a story they’ll buy.
“But it’s still light outside, mom! I don’t want to go to bed!”
“No sweetie, it’s not really light outside. That’s just an optical illusion from the melting snow and the angle of the moon…JUST GO TO BED!”
Finally, keep repeating to yourself - summer is coming, summer is coming! This is the one that keeps me going. The first spring was really hard on me but then summer came and I realized something very important.
There is no summer in Anchorage – only spring!
All summer long, the tulips and daffodils bloom, the smell of fresh grass fills the air – its spring all summer long! Sadly this means that if you like summer you are out of luck. In that case, I suggest you go to Fairbanks where it gets to 90 degrees and the smell of forest fire fills the air. If, however, you’re a lover of spring, stick with Anchorage. Survive March and April and I promise you’ll love May, June, July and even a little bit of August and September on a good year!
Happy spring!

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