Coping with the Tropical Vortex

OK, I’ve been hearing enough from friends and family down south about the Polar Vortex, and how somehow it’s my fault that their weather has been more like it’s supposed to be here.


I would like to lodge a complaint. I’m pretty sure the reason the Polar Vortex has moved south is because it has been pushed out of the way by what I’m calling a Tropical Vortex. I would gladly take back the typical winter weather I’ve come to enjoy, and I would ask that you stop blaming me if you don’t enjoy it just as much.

I know a lot of people liked the warm spell. They’ve been out walking or running in T-shirts. Ice has receded from driveways. People are joking about mowing the patches of grass that are showing up.

But this warm weather is really throwing me off. The staff over at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge posted a photo of emerging willow buds on their Facebook page last week, and I kind of feel the same way — things are happening now that really aren’t supposed to happen for another few months.

For example, I’m thinking I might actually put my Christmas lights away — perhaps as early as today. Crazy, right?

I think the weirdness actually started last fall, which was fairly mild for a fairly long time. I can’t cite specifics, but I can say that I was able to clean out my gutters after the leaves had all fallen, but before they became a frozen mass. That was fortunate, because my gutters had to handle a lot of water over the past few weeks.

Anyway, I also recall that putting out the decorations that go on a stake in the ground was accomplished without the use of a sledgehammer this year.

That thought leads me to today. Usually, once those stakes are in the ground, they are there until the ground thaws enough to pull them back out. Last year, that was sometime in May — late May. Very late May. It was almost to the point that I thought about just leaving them out (which I do with the lights on the roof anyway), but an aggressive squirrel had torn into one of our light-up flamingoes, and I didn’t want to risk a fluffy pink summer massacre.

But right now, I’m thinking it might be time to put the lights away. I’ve even got a place to put them as they haven’t been out long enough to fill their spot on the shelf in the garage with other stuff.

What’s more, I’ve been thinking about doing some other crazy stuff. Just last week, I was ready to take my bicycle out for a road ride. Indeed, the weather last weekend was more pleasant than it’s been for a lot of the rides I’ve done in the middle of summer.

Meanwhile, my skis, which I carefully waxed when we got that big dump of snow right before Christmas, having been sitting in the corner, neglected. I actually feel guilty that they haven’t been out on the trails in a month. Usually, at this time of year, I’m skiing a couple times a week.

But things seem to be returning to normal. There was frost on my windshield Friday morning. I wore a hat and gloves to watch my son’s ski meet. The trail groomers have performed a miracle, turning a solid chunk of ice into a skiable course. One more miracle like that, and we’ll have to start referring to them as the Saints of Tsalteshi.

If conditions hold up, I just might have to get out and ski today. If I do, I’m not sure if I’d have time to pull up the Christmas lights before kickoff. And you know, if I don’t get to it today, the ground might freeze up again, and they’d be stuck for another couple of months.

Yup, things are getting back to normal.

P.S. My last column about my canoe-in-progress seemed to have struck a chord with a lot of readers. Thanks for all the comments, and a special thanks for the “Round Tuit” that was dropped off at the office. Now that I’ve got a “Round Tuit,” I guess I better get those lights put away after all.

Reach Will Morrow at


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