Monday, May 28, 2018

Signs of Spring Part II

Spring has been cool, wet and windy this year. Normally I have my greens planted in my greenhouse sometime between April 1 and May 1, but this year it didn't happen till a warm, sunny day in mid-May woke me out of spring doldrums (and my mother-in-law, who was determined to help me get the garden going for the season!). In a mere week it seemed we went from nearly bare trees to a lush, green lawn that I had to mow twice in 8 days!  

I know it's spring when the robin builds a nest on the eaves of our cabin.  This year mommy and daddy robin built the nest in one day flat while we were away. I took it down that evening when I discovered it, impressed that the mud was still wet, placing it carefully in the tall grasses nearby, which was a useless move since the robins won't be using it there but it made me feel better for respecting their hard work.  The next morning more grass and debris were hanging from the eaves. I  pulled that down and my chicken wire went up. We left for a long weekend and came back to a nest tucked in behind the chicken wire. I gave up. I don't care if the robins have a nest, but last year they divebombed us every time we went into and out of the cabin, and it got so bad they were divebombing us if we walked up our driveway. This year, no divebombing, so we have reached a truce and I won't continue to hate robins.

A walk in Anchorage gave us the sweetest surprise:  a momma moose with a newborn baby so newborn it was still wet and attempting to get up. We watched it awhile; the poor little one kept toppling over face first. Momma moose was calm and kept licking the little'un, knowing it would eventually make it up on its teetering legs. I've seen baby moose before, but never that newly born. Quite the treat for all the folks on the Coastal Trail in Anchorage that day.

Last year during a high tide storm, this eagle's nest was swept off the pier.
This rebuilt one isn't as large as last year's but is still plenty large!

In Homer, the eagles are sitting on their eggs, so the sight of eagles peering out of their gigantic nests is not uncommon.  Off the top of my head, I can think of six eagles nests I drive by regularly. The most popular ones in Homer are at the light by McDonald's, where there are two, and where crowds will gather will cameras waiting for a view of the fledgling eagles to peep out of the nest and eventually make their first rough flights.

A flock of sandhill cranes in a local pond

As we walked in Anchorage we saw a single sandhill crane and a man was all excited about it. Here in Homer the cranes fly over regularly, swooping in for a landing at various people's yards. The folks across the street from us have a little pond and I noticed the cranes hanging out there the other day and snapped this photo.

May cruise ship arrival on a calm, beautiful Homer morning
(that white dot in the water, which is the end of the spit, about 5 or 6 miles away)

Cruise ships also mark a new season in Homer. The first one came in mid-May this year, which is unusual. Twelve cruise ships will make their way to Homer this summer--always on Tuesdays, arriving first thing in the morning and by 6 pm their bulk pulls away from the deep water dock and heads out of Kachemak Bay on to their next port of call. Those are busy days in Homer with school buses shuttling folks to and from town from the spit, the trolley in full swing and lots of people on the sidewalks wandering about.

Graduation is a rite of passage marking each spring. As the principal, Doug is the emcee of the Homer High graduation each year, but this year was special as our son graduated and he and his friends planned well-developed collaborative valedictory address. The senior class even flew up the commencement speakers from the Lower 48, a couple that comes to Homer High each year to conduct Poetry Slam events and who had bonded with the kids over the past four years. Graduation is a community event in a small town like Homer, and this year about 1500 people showed up to send off the 80 or so graduates.

In our family, track and field is part of our lives. Every year the Homer boys and girls track teams qualify for state so we head up north to cheer them on, this year to Palmer. It was exciting for Homer girls to get second at state with 6 girls on the team, all amazing athletes. Doug is always pleased when Homer teams get the academic award, which the girls did. The girls and boys teams both set school records in the 4 x 800 relay (and winning as well) and one of the guys set a school record in the 800 as well. After taking a couple years off track to play soccer, it was neat for our son to be a key player in the success of the team. The tradition in Alaska is for state champions to carry the state flag up the straightaway immediately after winning an event, which is what the video above is of.

Now, on Memorial Day, it is sunny and gorgeous and I'm ready to think summer!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Thank You, Homer!

Each month my husband writes the Homer High School newsletter. Usually it is mundane school news, but this month, as our youngest child prepares to graduate, he got a bit more personal. Judging by the outpouring response to it, many other Homer parents feel the same way about raising their kids here. Thought I would share it here.

Normally I would write about all the great things Homer High students are doing and the cool events that are coming up. Instead, I want to let you know how grateful I am to the Homer community. We moved to the Homer area eleven years ago and it was the best decision we ever made. I say this because not only am I a principal of Homer High School, I am a parent and my youngest child is a member of the class of 2018 and will graduate in less than a month.

My children are a product of the Homer community. We have had so many great experiences raising them here. Events ranged from Bruins Basketball and taking art classes at Homer Council on the Arts to taking kayaking classes, HOWL and Boy Scouts. Our kids were inspired by participating in Math Counts and even performed for Pier One Theatre.

We have great memories with Homer Community Recreation, especially with Fuzzy and rock climbing. All through Middle School our kids lived at the rock wall. We even spent time across the bay climbing Kachemak Crack. We have missed Fuzzy since he passed away.

In High School our kids were able to play varsity sports and be a part of National Honor Society and Ocean Bowl. Most importantly, they were inspired by a great staff. They were awoken to the world of science by Mr. Rife and were challenged to think critically by Mr. Campbell. Mrs. Borland pushed their limits studying history and Ms. Tetor helped them fall in love with ceramics. There are too many influential adults, teachers, coaches and community members who positively affected our children's lives to list here.

They were able to give back by helping teach kids to ski in remote villages as part of Skiku, encourage children to get excited about sea life through providing tide pool walks for elementary children at Peterson Bay and help present Native summer camps in the Aleutian Islands. I am totally envious that my daughter got to deckhand on the Tiglax for a couple weeks one summer with Youth Conservation Corp (YCC). It is crazy to me the number of opportunities there are in Homer for our youth. It is like we woke up one day and hit the parenting jackpot.

Both of my kids worked hard and are going to college to become engineers and I couldn't be prouder of them. They have both earned awards, excelled at school and enjoyed sports, but it wouldn't have played out the way it did anywhere else in the world but Homer. In fact, our kids are mad at us that we didn't move to Homer sooner. In their hearts they are Alaskans.

It truly does take a village to raise a child and my children are an example of that. I am truly grateful for what the Homer area has provided for my family and I hope I can give a piece of that back to future graduates as Principal of Homer High School.

Thank you, Homer!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Signs of Spring

"Did you hear the cranes?"

"Yes! I saw two of them in my yard last night!"

"A flock of them flew over earlier today."

"There's a momma moose and little one outside."

"I think that momma is pregnant and has been trying to run her young 'un away."

"Yeah, I've had one hanging out in my back yard this week."

"I've seen at least a couple moose every day this week!"

These are conversations of spring in Homer. There's some anticipation of the first cranes arriving and a buzz when they come in, advertising their presence with their echoing squanks overhead.  Only in Homer is there a video of sandhill cranes in the pre-movie show. 

The moose that have been hiding all winter have come out, munching on the fresh green grass that has been sprouting and sticking to the highly populated areas of town and protection from bear.  Now the waiting game becomes watching to see when last year's babies are run off as the momma's anticipate their newborns and the breathless hope of seeing the little moose freshly born tottering around on their little stilted legs.

The sound of cranes and the sight of moose around town are unique signs of spring in Homer.