Monday, March 29, 2010

Ever been thwarted by nature?

If the answer is "no", then I must conclude you either live in a biodome or are homebound.  I had prepared a post on "The Five Ways to Know It's Spring in Alaska," to be completed with a picture or two, a short numbered list, and a question to get the comment juices flowing.  With a self-satisfied smile, I arranged for the post to be published on Monday (two Mondays ago, that is), and pressed the "publish" button.  And then it snowed.  And snowed.  And snowed.  The post was up for four hours before I realized my error.  Fill in your favorite exclamation here (I favor "whoopsie" for a family friendly blog, but to each their own).

Spring is not quite here yet.

For those that have never visited our great state, snow is the official state of oxygen accompanied by two hydrogen molecules here.  Liquid water enjoys but a four-month repast, and then it's straight on to solid ice and the lovely crystalline structure of snow.  We're used to getting foiled and frustrated so this isn't the first time the weather and its fickle nature have laid to waste my best-formed plans (and even the scatter-brained or spur of the moment ones, too). 

I've taken to playing the leafy version of Russian roulette: hardening off annuals before the last frost date, or even (gasp) planting my containers before that special day.  For Alaskans, it has traditionally been Memorial Day weekend, the last weekend in May.  These days I push the envelope by two weeks at least.  I once had a candidate for public office stop during her spiel at my doorstep, and tell me I had planted my annuals too early.  And yet, I felt no guilt.  Can you blame me, I mean, the last weekend in May?  Calendar, or "official", spring is more than half over by then!

  A couple of flats of annuals, waiting for me to plant them (too early).

My early push has resulted in the demise of many a good annual.  Some frequent casualties include Coleus, Impatiens, Helichrysum, and Heliotropium.  You'd think I would figure this out.  Instead I just throw my "emergency cover", a painting drop cloth, over the lot at night in (very early) spring when temperatures get too cold.  They sell real products that probably do a better job at this, but hey, I'm cheap.  The Coleus in particular doesn't care for this brutal treatment/low temperature and inevitably I kill all, or nearly all, of my precious, colorful acquisitions.  Well, as grandpa says, "You can't fix stupid." 

Do I get thwarted in summer, you ask?  Our summer reversals are usually of two types: too wet or too hot.  Just as the petunias are opening in their full glory, releasing their scent to great anticipation, we get rain.  We are quite dry here in Anchorage, with only 16 inches of precipitation annually (that makes us a desert sans cactus), so the rains in late summer, though welcome, are always a bit of a surprise.  I never plant petunias in-ground, and the better drainage in containers seems to help with too much water, but when it rains for an entire day, the blossoms do get damaged.  Actually, damaged is too kind.  They turn into a putrid, slimy mess.  The white-flowering varieties seem to fare the worst. 

                                             Petunias just waiting to be spoiled by the rain.

If it's not raining, it's the odd over 75 degree Fahrenheit day that toasts all the container plants and even stresses the in-ground plantings.  (Stop that laughing, 75 is a scorcher here.)  Two years ago, we had no days over that temperature, so I get lulled into thinking it can't happen.  And when it does, I want to be at the lake, not running around with the hose or watering can doing plant triage.

Before the snow, Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue', looking good.

Fall has the same trick every year.  Firstly, I should explain "fall" or "autumn" if you're English, is a newer concept to most Alaskans.  Traditionally, it's the time between September and the first snow.  So about three hours or so.  Recently, gardeners here have taken to planting more annuals and perennials that thrive in cooler temperatures.  But it's a losing battle.  Around the first part of October we have our first real snow of the year.  The one that sticks, which means end game for annuals.  A couple of stalwart perennials can truck through a few light snows; Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' comes to mind.  I've taken to planting ornamental grasses, which look great in autumn and (many of them) into winter as well.

An Alaskan winter has many hidden tricks and traps to thwart even wily gardeners.  Ice, freeze-thaw cycles, rodent damage, moose damage...well, I'll end there, lest my list get too depressing.  Even after enduring many winters and their reversals, I still get snookered.  Hope springs eternal in the gardener's heart.  Read on for one example of this involving the hulking, steroid enhanced version of Bambi, pictured below.  

Snap!  There goes two hundred dollars.

I am an acolyte (as are all Alaskans who plant young, deciduous trees) of moose-repelling products.  My go-to choice is Plantskyyd, which might be Swedish.  (Don't they love of the vowel "y"?  Or is it the Russians that love "y"?  Perhaps a reader will clue us in.)  I know it can't be American because our vowels are: a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.  A sometimes rating doesn't get you two "y's" in a row.  [Just realized my razor sharp editorial skills have served me well, once again.  The product is actually spelled Plantskydd.  That's right.  Two d's, not two y's.  My apologies to Sweden and other "y" loving countries.] 

This product, touted to repel rabbits, elk, and deer, has worked pretty well for me when applied monthly in the winter.  (Who is that disciplined?)  Any gardener who has had the good fortune of using this animal blood-based product also knows the stench that goes with it.  I'll try to paint a fair picture for the uninitiated: mind numbing, stomach turning, dry heave-inducing stench.  It also has a tricky nozzle that seems to get clogged after the first squirt and thereafter, somehow, sprays backward onto the human applicator, a bit like the magic bullet that shot JFK.  So the point of this is: application is messy and I don't like doing it.  I apply and expect the stuff to work for a month at least.  Here's the obstacle: it snows, or the snow melts, or a windstorm blows the snow away and I should reapply but I don't.  The moose know this: they have an ungulate version of The Force and can sense a disturbance.  One unprotected night and voila: where once a young tree proudly stood lies an homage to Marilyn Manson, the Addams family, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  Yes, quite shocking.  It's the only known case of the Last Frontier Gardener thinking dark, malicious, assault rifle-laden thoughts having to do with a four-legged animal.  For the calendar year at least.

I guess the point is (wow, there's a point here?) we can get lulled into whatever the weather (or fauna) status quo is, and then are surprised, dare I say outraged, when there is a change.  Doesn't some Harry Potter character keep barking "constant vigilance!!" or some such thing?  Reflection on my past behavior has led me to conclude that I don't think I can maintain the proper watchful, attuned attitude for more than one month, but a little more preparation and awareness would be good.  And if that fails me, I'll just have to find that door-to-door politician cum horticulturist to advise me on my next move.
I'm convinced Mother Nature is a temptress.

How are you and your plans frustrated or foiled by nature?

This just in...first flower in Anchorage!

The very first reported flower in Anchorage for this year comes to us from veteran gardener and hypertufa guru Carmel T.  She snipped it from her yard (on March 27th) and brought the flower and accompanying vase to gladden the hearts of all gardeners assembled to dream about spring at the Alaska Botanical Garden's annual Spring Garden Conference.  So what is this mystery marvel that can bloom in March?? 

(Yes, that question rates two question marks.  Nothing blooms in March but the pussy willows....)  Get your pencils out all gardeners in zones 2,3, and 4: Bulbocodium vernum, otherwise known as spring meadow saffron.  Check out this link for more pictures.  I will be putting this one on the fall bulb order this year.

Quick report on the conference.  There were four sessions with four different presentations for each session to chose from.  Presenters ranged from, at the high end, gardeners with decades of experience, people with doctorates and scientific research papers published on horticultural topics, and national garden book authors to, at the low end, me. 

I gave a presentation on ornamental grasses in Alaska (admittedly a very obscure branch of knowledge).  For one hour.  With only two or three electronic device related glitches (I am awarding a "gold star" to Extension Agent Julie Riley for saving my proverbial bacon when the computer took a dump with two minutes 'til presentation time).  I expected (and made handouts for) ten people.  Thirty showed up.  The classroom was kind of small, so I hope my alarm didn't show on my face when it started filling up.  These two words can precisely say how I feel about it all: it's over.  No, it wasn't a bad experience, but I just worked myself up into a state of nervousness that made every little thing seem huge.  My hands were even shaking!  I guess I better figure this nervous thing out because I will be speaking twice more in the next ten days.

Any speaking tips to calm the nerves from the veterans out there? 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tour a Nursery: Sutton's Greenhouse

Join me for a March ramble through an Anchorage, Alaska greenhouse.  Just what delectable morsels will we find?  I don't care.  Beggars can't be chosers: the fact that morsels will be there is enough for me.  Tally ho! 

 A banana plant I almost bought.  I might as well have...I decided I'm going back for it soon.

With all those garden bloggers in warmer climes showing off their emerging bulbs, flowering shrubs and trees, and dirt under their nails, a very jealous Last Frontier Gardener felt the need for a green fix.  What was to be done?  Nothing but willows blooming off to Sutton's Brown Thumb Greenhouse I went. 

Just being in a house whose sole purpose was to grow plants made me happy.  I scented a heady bouquet of "gardener's anticipation" mixed with a subtle garnish of "late winter desperation"...or was it the humidity and soil-less mix?

 They have a great selection of cacti and succulents.  For indoors, of course!

Fancy-leaved Begonia starts, for indoor or outdoor use.  These types have help me overcome a long-standing prejudice of the genus.

Those that have stopped in over the years know that Sutton's is a bit like a maze complete with connecting tunnels, steps, narrow aisles, and forbidden areas.  Each area seems to have its own theme, at least to me.  There is the herb starts area, the succulent area, small annuals, large annuals, tomatoes, pond plants, and potted arrangements.  That's just the inside.  Later in the year, the outside seems to magically turn into a plant flea market complete with stalls covered by umbrellas.  It is the place to find many bedding annuals in cell packs, perennials (including plug sizes, love these!), and potted trees and shrubs.  You can find such Alaska garden stalwarts as Meconopsis (blue poppy), Trollius (globeflower), Rhubarb, and Paeonia.  I've had good luck finding more unusual and even brand new varieties of perennials there as well.

Grabbed up one of these plug size Isolepis cernua for my ornamental grasses presentation next weekend.  The plug size is very affordable.  Fiber optic grass (actually a sedge) is great in containers: you won't regret using it.  A bit hard to find here though.

Anna and Patty are the friendly proprietresses for this family-run greenhouse, whose motto is "Turning brown thumbs green for over 45 years." A compelling reason to visit right there.  Their brand new website shares the greenhouse history in a nutshell, complete with picture of mom and grandma, the founders.  To illustrate the charm of the place, they have an after hours drop box for those that shop the outdoor plants when the greenhouse isn't open.  I've used it myself once or twice.  Of course, like anything that works on honor, there are the abusers.  Not only those that don't pay, but steal the payments of others.  Boo, hiss!

So many little plugs, soon to be potted up to four packs or six packs, if you don't purchase them first.   This is one of the only greenhouses around to offer the plug size in my experience.

At a visit last season I nearly tripped on a little dog coming in the door.  I was lucky enough to be given the tour of his private room.  Very posh.  Used to be the kids play house, now the dog's palace.  There's an analogy in there somewhere.  I was told when the greenhouse gets busy, he gets put away so he won't escape out the door and get lost on a busy road.  For those that know Anchorage, Tudor Road is about as busy as they get.  So you probably aren't going to see any wee doggies on your visit.  Too bad, he's quite a mascot.  At a previous visit, he followed my daughter around and won her over.  She was torn between petting the dog and trying to catch the goldfish in the small indoor raised pond, a difficult decision for any child.  We missed him at our March visit but were assured he was still around offering moral support.

Indoor pond complete with funky garden art.

You'll notice all the snow.  The only flowers outside in March are on the dumpster.

All that colorful foliage just waiting to gladden a container on your a couple of months.

For those in the area, Sutton's can be found on East Tudor Road at 2845, between a church and a resource center for the homeless.  (There is an analogy in there as well, but I'm not touching it with a ten-foot pole.)  All you southcentral gardeners or visitors, head on over to Sutton's to get your green fix.  They're open seven days a week, noon to 5pm. 

Do you have a favorite nursery you go to for a leafy fix?


If only my houseplants looked this lush.

This tour was for kicks and giggles, not for compensation....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Luck in the garden

Blame it on the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, but I have all things “lucky” on the brain.  Maybe the lurid green color associated with this holiday roped me in, or maybe it’s the pot of gold/leprechaun thing, I can’t say.  There is, in fact, a cereal devoted to luck (and high fructose corn syrup), called “Lucky Charms” of which I was an ardent devotee in my youth.  I had to give it up…not enough rainbow-colored marshmallows for my taste.  Not even pants (or trousers, for you English folk) are luck-less in branding: "Lucky” brand jeans have “Lucky you” embroidered under the zipper.  Subtle, isn’t it?

shamrock 007

For the plant hunters among us, or at least those willing to go on hands and knees in the turf grass, finding a four-leafed clover is considered good luck.  Other talismans of luck: the horse-shoe, rabbits foot, and various items of adornment such as necklaces with charm or medallion.  And smelly socks, but perhaps that is lucky for sports players only.  Horoscopes are filled with such prognostications as lucky days, numbers, years, and signs of all kinds. (I’m a Leo, so this year I’m going to be busy.  In fact I might not be able to post once a week anymore, as I just recently learned, a minute ago in fact from the above link, that Saturn, Lord of the Underworld has sent me on a mission this year.  Hooray!  Time to dig out the blue tarp cape and duct tape goggles of my secret alter ego.)
Proverbs and famous quotes about luck abound.  “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.”  There’s Luck o’ the Irish.  Lucky in love.  Luck is the idol of the idle.  Or maybe you prefer Obi Wan Kenobi’s dour observation in Star Wars: “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.”  (The Irish have quite a few sayings about it, a fact uncovered in my scandalously brief research on the topic.  Surely some Irish reader will share why….)  And don’t we all send people off on a new adventure, whether it be the start of a sports game, wedding day, or Spelling Bee with the injunction “Good luck” or “Best of luck”?  Just what does it mean for the gardener?

I myself have considered certain gardeners to be lucky: those with a large garden, a fertile garden, a high yielding, or artful garden.  And even, once, in a moment of rage, those with no garden.  (Don’t judge me too harshly, there was blood involved.)  Everyone gardening south of zone 5 is grade-A lucky.  More than 20 inches of precipitation annually: lucky.  If the seasons arrive in your garden when the calendar says they should (for example, March 20 being the first day of spring), you are lucky.  Ditto those living in England, where they are blessed with real garden programming, witty garden commentators galore, magazines, and scads of world-famous gardens to tour.  And there is always that gardener that seems to be able to grow anything, especially that one plant you’ve tried and tried and killed and killed.  It gives me comfort to call that luck.

Oddly, a recent scan of garden blogs revealed but one entry on luck.  Check out Whole Life Gardening (written by C.L.): “Gardening & the School of Dumb Luck”.  I found many blogs briefly mentioned luck (as in “good luck in growing/finding/getting rid of…”) but few had devoted a post to the subject.  But let’s examine the other side of the gold coin, shall we?

Gleaned from my meticulous research on luck proverbs, the antonym for “luck” is “work.”  My favorite definition of work, taken from bing, might be number 10: “means for energy transfer” but the others (have job, exert effort, function, be successful, work in a specific place, shape something, cultivate land, and attain particular condition) work for gardening as well.  To quote a man that seemed to spout proverbs: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”  So says President Thomas Jefferson.  Is it any coincidence there are a dearth of garden blog posts on luck, when we take into account that gardeners are some of the hardest-working folk around?
Do you believe in luck?  Or hard work?  Or some amalgamation of both?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Are you a blog squirrel?

And from that improbable title, I will pose the question to blog writers out there: how many blog posts (or "nuts" in my super clever analogy) do you have in draft form at the moment?  But first, a little squirrel trivia.

My source is the most expensive book I had to buy in college: "The Encyclopedia of Mammals," edited by Dr. David MacDonald and published in North America by Facts on File, Inc.  I paid $62.35 for the heavy tome (about 900 pages), which was a fortune then for a book.  Actually, upon reflection, I don't know that I have purchased a book more expensive since.  Rather than sell it back to the bookstore (a common practice for a destitute student like myself) for a loss, I believe I kept it out of spite.  And now it keeps the other encyclopedias company on the bookshelf.  I see I have peculiar taste in this book breed: flags, rocks, dinosaurs, pond fish, etc....I think the only encyclopedias I am missing are: farm animals with spots, soil organisms smaller than 3 millimeters, and rock bands from the late 1970's. 

Did you know there are 267 species in 49 genera in the big old squirrel family (Sciuridae)?  That's a lot of squirrels, from about 3 inches in the African pygmy squirrel to more than 25 inches in the Alpine marmot.  And most people (and bloggers) out there have experience with squirrels as they are found worldwide with the exception of Australia (and thereabouts), the southern part of South America, desert regions like the Sahara, Polynesia, and Madagascar.  So to be more succinct about it: they are almost everywhere.

Alaska has more than our share, from my readings of the University of Alaska Anchorage's mammal list, with 17 different species and subspecies from all three groups of squirrel: flying, tree, and ground.  Marmots to woodchucks, we've got 'em here.  The Red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (and two subspecies), is the tree squirrel we "enjoy" here in the 49th state.  I put enjoy in quote marks because frankly, there are plenty of folks out there that don't care for them at all.  When they are raiding the bird feeder and spilling an entire bag's worth of seed onto the gravel, even the tolerant Last Frontier Gardener can get testy.  I also put it in quote marks because some people enjoy them served on dinner plates.  Yes, it's true: squirrels rate their own entry in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's list, where they are rated as "good eating" and their fur is sold in our great state and Canada.  I'm afraid I can't attest to their tastiness due to lack of personal experience.  I'm not real broken up about it either.

I feel bad for those poor saps that have to deal with the Gray squirrel.  Apparently in England (it was introduced there in 1876 from North America, a big "sorry" for that) it regularly strips the bark from sycamore, oak, and beech trees whereas in N.A. it favors the sugar maple.  Most squirrels love nuts and seeds, a few bugs here and there, fruits, and other plant bits.  They have also been known to take (skip ahead squeamish ones) baby birds and reptiles.  A plus for squirrel aficianados, Gray squirrels can have as many as nine or more in a litter.  Another bonus, they can have two breeding seasons a year if conditions are favorable.  Squirrels, squirrels, everywhere!

Some characteristics of most tree squirrels are: good eyesight, chisel-shaped incisor teeth, well-developed sense of touch (those whiskers help), and nests in trees called "dreys."  I also discovered Red squirrels can locate pine cones buried 12 inches below the surface.  That goes a long way to explain some of the
disruptive behavior in the garden, such as that time I planted hundreds of crocuses and they mysteriously unplanted themselves and got nibbled and moved around.  I won't describe my thoughts at the moment when I discovered my work undone.  After all, this is a family friendly blog.  Just imagine some steam coming out my ears and you'll about have it.

So now that I have captured your attention with this fascinating bit of squirrel lore, I will shift gears and get back to my blogging analogy.  Thank you for your patience, as the automated customer service voice intones when I am put on hold....

I suppose I am a bit of a squirrel hoarding my posts, as I seem to feel safe with a minimum of three in draft form, but then I've always been the highly-strung, nervous type.  Right now I must be feeling particularly creative because I have four (a lot for me) in various phases, from two lines to two hundred.  That's a bit of an exaggeration, but "two lines to twenty" just doesn't have the same weighty feel.

High strung might be one excuse, but I also think I have more quality control if I have a week or two lead-time.  I don't seem to be the type that can churn out literary gems with short notice.  Only on rare occasions am I am struck with inspiration and a post seems to write itself to my satisfaction in one sitting.  Apparently, I need a good deal of time to work out logic, flow, and wit (If I can summon any: I do notice this post is sadly lacking in that respect). 

Also, time is needed to come up with pictures to adorn said post.  For example, for this post, I felt like I needed a squirrel picture, or at the very least a nut picture.  Normally I'd start combing through my pictures stored on the computer, but I just happen to know for a fact that I have A. no squirrel pictures, and B. no nut pictures.  Drat.  I think the squirrels are all still asleep, as I haven't heard any chattering in, say, four months.  So that's not happening.  Perhaps I'll root out all the different kinds of nuts I have around the house and photograph them (did it, see below).  Remember, I did put an "if" in association with witty content.

Roll call: pine nut, peanut, almond, walnut, pecan and pistachio.  Apparantly blog drafts aren't the only kind of "nut" I am hoarding...

So to recap, my reasons for hoarding posts are:
1. personality
2. development/editing
3. finding appropriate pictures

So time to 'fess up: how many draft posts do you have right now?

And what squirrels call your garden/country home?

Monday, March 1, 2010

You Can Find the Fur Rendezvous Here

My hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, is the place to be to enjoy the one and only Fur Rendezvous.  Actually, I'm not entirely sure that it's the ONLY gathering of this type, but I'm guessing, due to lawyers and all, it's the only one officially called "Fur Rendezvous."  

For those that don't speak Athabascan (or is it French?), it's a yearly tradition started in 1935, where Alaskans gather to swap furs, race dogs, and play hockey.  Apparently the name is just too intimidating to pronounce and so it is affectionately referred to as "Fur Rondy" or just "Rondy."  I remember attending Rondy during my childhood and it was always a much anticipated time of year, especially the parade.  Is there a kid in this world who doesn't love a parade? 

Apparently the answer is "yes."  This little guy was even in the parade and couldn't deal with it.

The only thing I saw more of than fur on Saturday, was portable toilets.  This homemade specimen was delightful.

Built-in air conditioning.
Iceworm, and on the lower left, in black, a rondy" keystone kop".  I used to be terrified they would put me in the jail-on-wheels when I was a kid.  If you are not wearing a rondy pin, you get tossed in jail.  This year, I told them to throw me in jail, I wasn't able to buy a pin. Unfortunately, the jail had gone around the corner by then and the rondy kops said I missed my chance.  Drat!

I remember the jail being bigger and full of surly old folks.  Perhaps too many children had fits and they had to fill the jail with cheerful teenaged attendants, seen above.  Keystone kop pictured at lower right.  Menacing, aren't they?

We've modernized a bit, judging from this year's schedule, (which can be found at the Anchorage Daily News website) and now have outhouse races, bingo, and snowshoe softball.  And lest I forget a new and popular event, "Running with the Reindeer": the cold north's version of the bull running in Pamplona.  No one, so far as I've heard, has been gored or stomped, but I think people have slid in the poo and fallen.

 Nowhere else on earth will you see fur displayed in such quantity outside of a zoo.  Davy Crockett's raccoon tail hat has nothing on the fur hats you'll see here.  I saw a gentleman wearing a wolfskin hat complete with a wolf head on the front.  Very eye-catching.  (A brand new sighting for me this year: seal skin gloves.)  And the annual hide and horn auction brings out all types of folks to bid on animal hides seized by the Alaska Fish and Game department, often from illegal hunts or animals killed in defense of life or property.  I stopped by last year and it was a kaleidoscope of almost every fur bearing animal I have ever seen in Alaska.  I don't think I saw any squirrels, but I could be wrong.  Lynx, bears of multiple colors, rabbits, wolves, foxes, etc.  That's just one auction.  The downtown merchants were out in force with fur hats, coats, and in one shop that's hard to miss: a fur bikini (I wonder just how one would launder a fur bathing suit?).

I guess no one has figured out how to clean this bikini.  It's still for sale....

One event I always try to attend is the Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races.  A part of downtown is blocked off to vehicles and the streets are covered in snow for the race.  (Also, the weather usually cooperates by being bitterly cold, say under 20 degrees F, and windy.)  I have never seen happier dogs in my life than the dogs in harness waiting to start their run.  The teams I saw on Saturday were bursting with energy and found it hard to wait for their musher to give them the "go" signal.  Second in happiness to the dogs were the kids wandering around pointing out every dog team, dog, and fur hat to their parents.  Nothing quite says "Alaska" like a sled dog race.  At least I'm pretty sure it doesn't say "California" or "Florida."  I remember getting to ride in a dogsled one year as a child (dogsled rides are offered, but not usually by racers) and wondering why the musher brought his rifle.  I imagined wolves tearing us apart or some such scenario.  "Moose," he said, "I bring the gun for moose.  Sometimes they get tangled up in the harness and can stomp or kill the dogs."  It's a moose eat dog world up here.

Is it time to go yet?

Ground zero for the race.  The starting line.  Teams start at staggered times and race through part of downtown Anchorage, thrilling children and adults alike.

Rondy events I would like to try before I die: the blanket toss, in which a person gets tossed around but mostly up in the air by people holding the giant blanket (which looks pretty fun and kind of scary), the outhouse races, where you drag your own outhouse creation down the street as fast as you can, and ice bowling, which I hope is self explanatory....

A city moose.  More colorful than its rural cousin.

Other places and climates have such things as watermelon, chile pepper, or cheese festivals.  We have a festival of fur.  So what if I lost the feeling in my right foot, fingertips and left big toe?  At least I was dressed for the weather.  I just felt bad for those out-of-towners like the CNN crew, who were under-dressed in wool belted dress jackets and flannel.  Brrr.  All this hoopla because Alaskans are itching for spring and it's just not here yet.

Mush on!
Miniature hot rods on parade.

What festivals do you enjoy in your neck of the woods?


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