Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alaskan Summer: The OTHER White Fluff

Ahhh, Alaska -- home of the 8-month Winter. Where weather becomes, if not a matter of life and death, at the very least a factor in how you're going to be leading your life. Like, whether or not you're going to get to see your friends, or go outside today. Or if your power will be staying on.

As a Hawaii-girl by birth, I'm not accustomed to such a proactive meteorological scheme. I do admit to a flash-flood or two, but that's in a 20+ years time-frame. Every semester at UAA there was at least one emergency shut-down of campus, where students were encouraged to remain safely at home and indoors. And funnily enough, it wasn't because of snow; believe me, Alaskans know how to deal with snow. It was the wind; not a frequent phenomenon, but instantly noticeable when it appears...something about how it tries to eat your skin off through all 4 layers of clothing, including that expensive heavy winter coat.

The void of space; almost as cold as our car in the morning

No, snow is largely the icing (ha!) on an already icy cake. It comes down in flurries of tiny snowflakes, little points of white that stream past the car windshield like stars past the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Thank goodness for Summer-- the Alaskan skies switch their game up with sunshine, rain, and these beautiful white flurries that stream past the windshield like -- hold on, wait a minute! What the fluff?

Just lather, rinse, repeat...every year.
No, you didn't reread -- and I didn't mistype. Here, in the depths of August, white specks float silently in the air, and collect in drifts along the ground. But it isn't snow; thank the gods for that. It's dandelion fluff.

Disregard that my work building is in the background; I do.
Yes, dandelions are one of the many types of wildflower Alaskan hills sport in nigh-on every available color, and it is certainly the most proactive in getting its action in before the Summer fades. Ever accidentally biked through a cloud of gnats? Try having that experience every yard of the way. It is a unique sensation, to say the least, and inspires post-cycling dental hygiene like you wouldn't believe. But it is a sign of Summer, and I'm willing to take that as glass-half-full. Unlike every other white person I seem to meet, I'm not allergic to dander or pollen, and am familiar -- nay, even comfortable -- with the reality of insects. I guess I have my tropical upbringing to thank there. However, in semi-urban Anchorage, the outside world is treated with a strange, hesitant sort of hopeful suspicion. They're used to it trying to kill them, and at least Winter is a familiar concept to them. Summer is full of bugs and burrs, and Kana prances quite alone, barefoot in the backyard.
That speck? Way in the distance? That's her.
I tempted Miss Pants to a dandelion-festooned impromptu picnic last year, however, to great success; exactly why she had picnic supplies and an old shower curtain to spread out in her car at that particular time is just one of the wonderful mysteries that surround her.

And while the brilliant sunshine phase of the brief Alaskan Summer has largely passed us by since last I wrote, this newest of sky-occupants waiting for me to bike through it is none other than glorious, miraculous rain. With my (relatively) new flora-inspired bumbershoot, I look for excuses to go out in the wet. It didn't work so well against the dandelion fluff, so while it means our Summer is fading, I bid a blithe farewell to Alaska's Other Fluff, in favor of a sub-season I can really accessorize with.

You may tease shallowness in the "Comments" section below. :)