Friday, April 25, 2008

 

Snow, iPods, and Bears


This morning we drove to Anchorage for a shopping expedition. We left home expecting a little rain on the way. But as we rounded that last curve of the highway along Turnagain Arm and drove into the city, it started snowing. Hard. Large, heavy wet flakes. After an hour's shopping we emerged from one of the BigBoxes to that all-too-familiar world of white. Four inches of wet slushy snow covering everything. It kept on snowing like that all day, with the slush on the city streets getting deeper and deeper, and all the budding trees drooping from the weight of all that wet snow. Fortunately, everyone seemed to take things in stride, slowing down, anticipating stoplights, etc. We didn't see any accidents.

Not surprisingly, we left for home quite a bit sooner than planned (driving in a whiteout at 30 to 40 mph for the first hour or so). By the time we got to the mountains, the roads were merely wet, although some snow was sticking to the trees. By the time we got home, the ground was dry and the skies were clearing. It was sort of like we had entered some sort of space/time warp or something for half a day. Weird.

C'mon, its almost May!

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I really <3 my iPod. Usually that 6-hour roundtrip drive involves dragging along a bunch of CDs and fumbling around (safely, always) trying to change them as I drive. This time, however, I just plugged in my iPod, set it to "Shuffle All", sat back and let it entertain us all the way there and back. Since most of my playlists are from the 100 old LP albums that I've recorded (so far), I really felt transported back in time (as well as space - that snow thing).

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Now, for a purely "Alaskan" news story (and a rant): The father of our 16-year old Cellocracy partner, Cello1, was attacked by a brown bear this week as he went out for his morning jog. With several deep bites - all the way through his shoulder and butt - and a torn scalp, he somehow managed to get back home where he stood out on the porch and called for Cello1 to "bring out some towels". She coolly handled that unimaginable situation, gave initial first aid, and then got help. (He'll be OK, thankfully). By the time we met up for our trio's rehearsal the next evening, she was amazingly calm as she described trying to deal with all the press attention. The national news even picked up the story.

According to "some" in Alaska, if you are attacked by a bear "it's your own fault". There's even an subtle undertone of having "asked for it", simply by living where the bears are. [Sure, there was that nutcase who put himself and his girlfriend in harms way a couple years ago by living among a group of bears in the foolhardy belief that they were just big, cuddly, and sadly misunderstood; they both ended up as dinner. But that's a different story.]

Could he have done things differently? Sure. He was the first to acknowledge that he did what everyone says you shouldn't do - he panicked and tried to run. Maybe if he'd stopped/dropped/and folded, or wore those little jangly bells on his ankles, or whatever, things might have turned out differently; but maybe not. The Fish & Game guys say that the bears are attracted to the homes with livestock (chickens, rabbits), chained up dogs, compost piles, smokehouses, unsecured garbage, and so on. Possibly so, in many cases. Horses and cows are also fair game. But bears are big enough to go wherever the heck they want to go. I've seen several bears running through my yard over the years and I don't have any of those things around my place.

But the inference in this case, which I find offensive, is that the bears have more "rights" to this land than we do. I'm getting a little sick of that whole attitude. For better or worse, there are more than 6 billion humans on the planet. "Some" would have all of us huddled together in those monstrous soviet style housing blocs in vast gray cities, in order to ensure the bears can roam at will. Sorry, I don't buy that. There are millions of acres of vacant land up here, forever closed to human settlement; plenty of room for enough wildlife to coexist within their own great circles of life. Sadly, some of those bears (and moose, and wolves, and caribou, and foxes, and lynx, and whatever) do occasionally meander into our communities - sometimes with tragic consequences. We probably cannot prevent these sort of bear/human interactions, but blaming the humans doesn't help. [It's only a matter of time before they'll announce their grand solution to global warming - all of us should just hold our breaths and stop exhaling all that dang CO2.]

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The hardest part about today's trip was foregoing a day of practicing.

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