The Nome Nugget on the first signs of spring, Nome-style:

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2001

The first signs of spring run true to form in many places. In San Juan Capistrano it's the return of the swallows; in Hinkley, Ohio, it's the return of the buzzards. But in Nome, well, we have the return of the green stuff on Steadman.

Old time Nomeites know the true nature of the ''stuff,'' and new-to-Nomeites think it's another attempt to pull their leg.

The green stuff really is shark repellant, and a mighty good kind of shark repellant, too. It does quite a good job keeping sharks away from town. We don't have to worry about denizens from ''Jaws'' biting off our legs, but we should keep a wary eye for the loan sharks and the card sharks.

The green stuff is a nontoxic dye that was carried in the Lend Lease and other military planes in case they had to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. The dye would help locate the crash site and would also repel the sharks.

It is stored in barrels in an old Quonset behind the Alaska Cab property. When the snow melt water gets high enough, it brims over the curb and runs downhill to the storm drains. It's been doing this for decades and even the (state) DOT's efforts to change the drainage pattern on Steadman (Street) didn't staunch the running of the dye.

Shark repellant, the harbinger of spring in Nome, and truly the ''stuff'' urban legends are made of.

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