SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

The First Brain Freeze of the Year



January 11, 2016
Monday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
January is that wonderful time of the year when everything is swept clean and we start afresh.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Well, except for the side walks. We don't clean the snow and ice off the sidewalks because ......... well, I'm not rightly sure why we don't sweep the ice and snow. Maybe we appreciate the entertainment value in watching our fellow Ketchikanians slip and slide about. Maybe we are waiting for the rain to do it for us. That usually happens here. We don't "clean" anything much around here because the rain will usually wash away everything eventually. Except the mold, of course. But that's another story.

So, we just sit back and wait for the rain to take care of things. Which it does 11 months of the year. The exception is January. That is the month when the temperature seems to hovering relentlessly around freezing, which means that what rain that falls quickly becomes ice, which then melts, and then refreezes and melts again and refreezes leaving Our Fair Salmon City with giant case of freezer burn.

This freezer burn doesn't show up much on our streets because the constant traffic tends to obliterate it into microscopic shards of dust that we ingest, causing us to develop the dreaded "Ice Lung Disease". Now, to be sure, our version of Ice Lung Disease is nearly not as bad as the Ice Lung you get in Fairbanks and Barrow just by trying to breathe more than once or twice a day. That stuff is brrrrutal. One breath and you become like someone who has run afoul of the White Witch in Narnia.

In these here parts, the ice lung manifests itself a bit differently. It crawls into our gills, I mean lungs, and nests there for the rest of year, cutting back on the efficiency that our gills, I mean lungs, take oxygen out of our of watery environment so that we can survive in our underwater biosphere. Of course, since we are inefficiently converting water into oxygen it manifests itself in decision making that is less than optimal.

That explains the somewhat waterlogged reasoning that accompanies nearly all the political debates in Ketchikan. Seriously, we live in a giant Chinese Water Torture. Ketchikan is the only place where people shrug when they hear about "waterboarding." Which explains why just about any decision by the City Council, Borough Assembly, School Board etc seems to be accompanied by a very persistent "drip, drip, drip."

Yet, sometimes, the Ice Lung has a more significant result. Sometimes the ingestion of the particles reaches critical mass and causes a sudden dramatic effect. Something more torrential than "drip, drip, drip." When those flood gates open it creates an action called "Flying to Hawaii." Coincidentally, that action often seems to occur in January.

But I digress.

It's January. The sidewalks are frozen. And I have slipped and fallen twice.

Scratch that. I have slipped and almost fallen twice. You know that lovely scenario when your feet begin to slide and you engage in a remarkably athletic triple axel in order to maintain your balance, but since you haven't "stretched" since the Knowles Administration, you end up seriously wrenching your back, neck, knees, ribcage, elbows and forehead completely out of whack? Better than landing on the concrete and getting a bad case of coccyx shock, I suppose. But since it then hurts like heck for the next two weeks when you even think about breathing, you wonder if falling might have been a better choice.

Just thinking about that makes my hair - what's left of it - hurt.

At any rate, this is that wonderful time of the year when we get to shout "Mulligan," re-tee up life's "Titleist" and wack the heck out of it straight and true down the fairway. Or not. It's not like there are any lush green fairways in our little slice of creation.

Many years ago, when I was a young lad, I took some golf balls and a rusty old golf club out to Bayview Cemetery: the only large expanse of grass then extant in the City of Vicinity. After I had wacked a few, I heard someone shout "Stop that!"

I looked around and saw no one above the ground.

So I wacked another ball.

"Stop that!!!"

I looked around again. And hit another one.

"I said STOP THAT!!!! Don't make me come UP THERE!"

I didn't look around that time. I just skeedaddled. You don't have to tell me something four times. Of course my loved ones would disagree with that assessment.

Several years later, the sexton of the Cemetery asked me if I still "played" much golf. That was probably just a coincidence.

Which reminds me of time I was hanging with a group of street urchins and we were enjoying slamming the big wooden front door on a local church when a voice from inside announced "This is God, shut the door."

We did. And, of course, skeedaddled.

Skeedaddling means you live another day and can have more "mulligans."

Speaking of which, there was a Mulligan family who lived on out South Tongass many years ago. I often wondered if they called their do-overs "Smiths."

But I digress, again.

Anyway, I have been pondering just what I would like to change in the new year. It seems like this is the perfect time to come up with some resolutions that will make life better in 2016.

Unfortunately, other than ones about slamming church doors and playing golf in cemeteries, nothing is coming to mind, Well, I suppose I could also resolve to not slip on icy sidewalks too. That's a good one. Also, I resolve to not go out and get Ice Lung either.

Now if I could just figure out a way to keep "mold" at bay for another 366 days.

Happy New Year!

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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