Archive for May, 2012

I live in such a small town! And I mean that with all the attendant good things about small town life, and none of the bad.

Today Tom and I took advantage of the 50+ degree temperatures and rode our bikes into Palmer, to Vagabond Blues, the local coffee house. Along the way, we saw the bike shop owner and his wife, decked out in the shop’s logo jerseys, taking much speedier advantage of the great weather. Greetings exchanged, we all pedaled on.

Upon arriving at the coffee shop we leaned our bikes against the wall, hung our helmets on handlebars and walked away. There were a couple other bikes keeping our steeds company, but nary a lock in sight. Just down the street there was a table with one adult and several pre- and young teens. They were selling lemonade.

Now, lemonade stands are common everywhere, big city, small town, even rural crossroads. Lemonade stands often have a dog in attendance as well, smiling, tongue lolling, adoring his kids. Less often will this dog be a yearling Great Dane, but there he was, happily dashing up and down the sidewalk with his girl on a leash.

“Lemonade 4 Sale!” proclaimed one hand-lettered sign. The kids promenaded themselves and their pets back and forth in front of the stand, waving at the traffic and beckoning people in to buy. Three girls, a boy, a dog–and a goat. Watching this little private circus from the comfort of our windowside table, we hooted with laughter; the 12-year-old on the other end of the goat’s tether was clearly shocked and embarrassed when it left its calling card on the public sidewalk.

Responsible and resourceful young woman that she was, she soon returned with a snow brush she found in her dad’s car, and commenced sweeping the little dark marbles into the gutter. So intent was she that she failed to notice the woman behind her, who had to jump around a bit to avoid the enthusiastic cleanup.

It was then that we saw the second hand-lettered sign. “Lemonade 4 A Goat!” What? They already had a goat. What’s the story? Upon our exit from the coffee shop, our investigations revealed that today is National Lemonade Season kickoff. There is actually a nationwide, non-profit organization, Prepared 4 Life, dedicated to teaching kids basic business practices by encouraging them to set up and run lemonade stands. These entrepreneurs would use the monies raised to buy another goat, presumably another business investment. We bought chocolate chip cookies and left it at that, satisfied that the future of capitalism in Palmer is in good hands.


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“The stars at night go twink-a-link-a-link-el, way up in the sky…”

AKA the Drinking Gourd

The Alaskan sky does a slow, seasonal pirouette, dancing gracefully between extremes of light and dark. In the ice cream midnight of June it’s not possible to glimpse the Dipper, Orion or even the brilliant, giant Jupiter.  White nights overpower white lights and all of nature goes without much sleep.

The shrieking cold of midwinter brings the Great Bear out of hibernation, the celestial natural order contrasting that of its earthly counterpart.  Even then, when the inky sky struts its twinkle lights to best advantage, the constellations are often overshadowed. Like an exotic dancer, their charms are first revealed, then concealed by Aurora’s gauzy skirts.

“The moon at night goes blink-a-link-a-link and shines right in my eye.”


Here in the northern latitudes the moon careens along a strangely irregular path. I confess that I do not understand the celestial mechanics involved. She rises in the east and sets in the west, indisputable, regular, constant.

But along that predictable track there are strange wanderings. I have seen her standing tall in the skyfield, shining her beam from directly above as if standing tip-toe in the tall grass. Other times, other seasons, Luna stoops low on the horizon, searching like an old woman for lost coins that might have rolled under the bed. Fat or spare, waxing or waning, her phase seems to have no bearing on her celestial inclination; feminine mystery embodied.

“Those skunks at night go stink-a-link-a-link; I wish they’d pass me by.”

Daisy and Flower

Skunks are mercifully absent from Alaska; by living here I have, in effect, passed them by. Here weasel, mink, otter and wolverine fill that biological niche. While all of these belong to the Mustelidae family of strong-smelling carnivores, none produce the distinctive aroma of the skunk; none use their odor as a weapon.

I knew a woman years ago who kept a skunk as a pet. Predictably, the skunk’s name was Daisy. She’d had her scent gland removed but was not neutered. This only presented a problem to Fish and Game, which frets about potentials; the lady herself never found a lover. We women joke that in Alaska “the odds are good, but the goods are odd”. This was not the case for Daisy, at least regarding the first part of that statement. However, the Tom-cat next door often looked confused.

“Oh twink-a-link-a-link, Oh blink-a-link-a-link,

Oh stink-a-link-a-link, Oh my!”

Oh my, indeed.

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