Are you a campfire? ‘Cause you’re hot, and I want s’more.
As I glance at social media, my Alaskan buddies are posting breath taking pictures of camping, kayaking, and nature hikes. I haven’t gone camping yet, but it’s on the agenda. There is a tiny nagging fear that I’ll need to Photoshop my face into one of these gorgeous postcard trips to claim as my own if I don’t get cracking. It’s early July. There is time left, but also the uneasy feeling that the midnight sun comes and goes so quickly. By the time it’s September, my mind finally has a chance to process what activities devoured my time and I just can’t end my summer with any regret.
Summer creeps up on you, then without warning it yells in your face. You notice peculiar things when the daylight rolls in. The big wrinkle between your eyebrows when you squint. Unknown hairs on your face. You’ve been using the wrong foundation for some time now. When the full sunshine hits, you basically realize that you’re the Sasquatch. Then the charm begins. You get to peel off the oppressive winter gear, specifically the marshmallow coats. Arms start shooting out of colorful tank tops and pale legs grace us in denim shorts to welcome the arrival of warmer weather. To be clear, that’s anything above 50 degrees.
Summer is an old friend that you see for about 30 days. She reminds you of past recollections that seemed so far away at one point. The lawn mowed for the first time fills the house with a delicious familiar fragrance. The musical ice cream truck that plays its festive jingle outside the kiddie park. The feeling of the warm, gritty beach sand in between your pedicured, dirty gardening, or eagle-like talon toes makes you relax. Reliving the sentimental days of the nocturnal summer is great, but there are always new affections to be made.
Did you know there is a snow cone shack in Soldotna, next to the Key Bank? It’s called... Sno Shack (surprise). It’s my new summer love. A snow cone is the last thing on my mind during winter and can be haphazardly made in the back yard, which is a bad idea. It’s unhygienic and tastes like dirt, but let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. I came across this snow cone booth on a dog day and had an icy peach flavored treat. It was a good idea and did not taste like dirt. Usually I go to a coffee shop and order a bean freeze. If you are a newbie to the Kenai Peninsula, go to a coffee shop immediately and order a “bean freeze.” I pinky promise no one will look at you weird. It’s a much better version of a Starbuck’s Frappuccino. Don’t leave the area without getting one. Unless you’re not a fan of coffee. Then get out. Just kidding. I was going to say, order a Red Bull Special instead. They will blow your mind. This is an insider tip for those of you new to the area. Treat it like gold.
Alaska in the winter and Alaska in the summer are two entirely different experiences. Both are great, but one is longer than the other. After a long winter it’s easy to feel in June that the gun goes off and the race begins! Your kids can ride their bikes again. Going to the park gets everyone out of the house. Walking on the beach is an option. These are things that slowly dwindle away in the later months. Especially with kids in school, “time” is naturally on our radar. August and September are the only times I consider homeschooling. You can still be comfortably outside without a bajillion layers. They are the most beautiful months here, in my opinion. Fireweed and sweater weather. Fall is just as short as summer so naturally, it’s also my favorite.
Here’s the Thing, this anxiety to plow through summer time is motivating. Alaskan summers equal adventure. I still get so excited and feel like the ultimate tourist. Boardwalk shops in Homer? Go before they close. Alaska State Fair? See vegetables that rival Little Shop of Horrors. Seward glacier cruise? Must hear archaic chunks of ice snap, crackle, and pop. Wildlife is way more active and truth be told, my daughter is tired of me pointing out eagles like they’re magical creatures that turn into a pterodactyls as they fly away. Don’t mind me, I’m just throwing elbows to take pictures of it all. In the words of Led Zeppelin, “We come from the land of the ice and snow, From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.” The Scandinavian reference sounds awfully familiar, no? Enjoy the good summer days we have. Rock on, Alaska.
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.