"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, March 28, 2009

and I nominate....

....Another Inevitable

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Familiar quotation, but author unknown. So, with the aid of my dear friend Google, I went searching for the name of the brilliant, somewhat cynical, person who first mouthed those immortal words. Lots of people credited “Unknown” with being the author. There were also a few nods to “Anonymous,” as well as “the fellow.” Those guys get lots of credit where it isn’t earned. Many others simply skirted the whole issue of attribution.

After due diligence, I found the answer right where I should have looked in the first place: Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The author? None other than that rascally Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin. Should have known. The fact that so many didn’t know, and credited Unknown and Anonymous instead, serves to give credence to Ben’s adage, because while his words have survived a couple centuries and are familiar to many, though they are plagiarized endlessly in numerous variations and with uncountable additions and pretenders to be the third inevitable, his authorship is lost in oblivion and certainly not certain..

So, after the past few days, I find it incumbent upon myself to add my selection for the third inevitable: “You can never truly get away with anything.” The following recounting of the past ten days are the bona fides to support my selection.

But first, I must explain a theory I developed last winter. That’s last winter, as opposed to this winter, because here in Alaska it’s still winter. I was absent from home last winter so many times that winter went by with scarcely a notice. I went to Mexico. I went to Arizona. I spent the month of February house-sitting in Halibut Cove, which is in Alaska. I drove north into the heart of the Alaskan Interior to Fairbanks, Manley Hot Springs, Chena Hot Springs, and places in between. I think there were a few other times that I was away from home during the seven months we call winter (those being October through April), but I don’t remember them now.

All in all, I was home in Moose Pass only nine weeks total, with many breaks in between. I was also gone in May, but May is considered Springsummer, so that doesn’t count. After so many absences, so little snow shoveled, and so few days of below zero temperatures, I reached a startling observation: It doesn’t count as winter if you aren’t at home.

This winter, the one still in progress, is a different story. I stayed home until mid-January, when I once again drove to Homer and rode the mail boat over to Halibut Cove. This time, though, I was there almost nine weeks, and I considered that nine weeks of winter I missed because I wasn’t at home. Never mind that it snowed and froze and thawed and got cold in the cove. I wasn’t home and it didn’t count.

When my friends came back, I left the cove and drove home to Moose Pass, anxious to see how much the earth had tipped to allow sunshine into the valley where I live. By the way, because I’m surrounded by mountains, there is no direct sunshine from mid-November until mid-February. Then, in bits and spurts, our sun quota is lengthened as that orb clears peaks and ridgelines.

It was snowing and overcast when I got home. The next day, however, was nice and clear and sunny, and I was delighted that the sun had cleared the south mountain for all but a couple hours in late afternoon. A day later, Saturday, the sky became obscured and a half inch of snow fell before I went to bed. By Sunday morning there were at least sixteen inches of new snow, and the guy who plows my very long driveway made his first appearance since before I went to Halibut Cove.

He was back to finish up the next day because he’d only had time to make sure I could get in and out of the drive on Sunday. Wednesday I went to Anchorage to deliver the data for one of Ben’s inevitables—taxes—and to visit Costco for the first time in over two months. I drove home, almost a hundred miles, flirting with Ben’s other inevitable, in high winds, blowing snow, and obscured visibility. The worst weather was in my home valley, a flat-out snarling blizzard. It’s a good thing my bedroom is on the lee side of the house, or I wouldn’t have been able to sleep because of all the noise.

The next day found the snowplow guy in my driveway again. This was the day I also discovered that my entire septic system—drain pipe, sewer tank, and lift station—was frozen solid. I knew it because all the water that had been going down that drain pipe for a week was backing up into my house. I called the guy with the steam cleaner, and he got that problem fixed, but the lift station continues throwing the breaker for the pump. That problem remains to be deciphered, but by six o’clock, we were cold and wet and discouraged, and quit for the day.

Friday night it snowed again. Today the snowplow guy was back—for the fourth time this week.

I still think my theory is valid, that it doesn’t count as winter if you aren’t at home. But, the caveat to that is this: you can never truly get away with anything. I’m thinking of calling my friends in Halibut Cove and asking if I can come back until, say, the Fourth of July, maybe.


1 comment:

  1. There are times when I rue the day I decided to leave the Great Land; but...frozen septic, multiple plowings! Aaahh! These are some the things I DON'T miss about Alaska! Thanks for reminding me that there's a price to pay for all that beauty and wonder! Life is good in Cheyenne!