SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column: Humor




July 22, 2017
Saturday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
For the record, the first leaves began to congregate on our driveway right around the solstice, the official beginning of summer, the third week of June.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Yes, winter seems to coming a little earlier than normal in Our Fair Salmon City.  But that is to be expected since apparently summer decided to take a pass this year.

This, of course, is rather distressing turn of events, or fine kettle of fish, as my mother used to say.

Speaking of which, what the heck does that even mean?

She always said it a negative way. Something that was unfortunate, awkward, ill-timed or unexpected was always a "fine kettle of fish."

I mean, shouldn't a "fine kettle of fish" be a good thing?

We all like fish. And we should therefore be pleased to encounter a "fine kettle" of them.

Unless of course it is pinks or cannery dogs or whatever that tote of stuff the Alaskan Bush People brought to Dr. Albertson that time was.

Speaking of cannery dogs, a while back I wrote about cannery dog salmon being passed off as "tiger" salmon (all purple and black striped!) in a Wyoming grocery story eons ago. I have since heard this is not an uncommon thing, especially in inland areas where consumers would not be expected to know the difference between good salmon and ... well ... a piece of spawned out junk. And you wonder why some people hate salmon?  One mouthful of mushy, half decomposed dog salmon would surely do it.

But you would never call such bear-regurgitated salmon a "fine kettle of fish." You would think a fine kettle of any fish would be good thing, put apparently not to my mother.

But, as usual, I digress.

Back to the apparently "autumn" leaves littering my driveway. 

What does this tell us?

That summer, which never really arrived, is over?

Now that would be a fine kettle of fish!

As I write this, in the late afternoon, the sun is peaking out behind the rain clouds. But is still 54 degrees. That's a little chilly for mid July in these here parts. For the past few nights, it has been necessary to flip on the space heater. Yeah, I get this is Alaska, but by mid July it should be at least a farther north of freezing.

I did enjoy one lovely day of summer earlier in July. It was 77 degrees and sunny, and I - quell horreur - actually got a slight sun burn.

It was also in Kotzebue. 

Seriously, you shouldn't have to travel 1,200 freaking miles NORTH of Ketchikan to get summer. You shouldn't have stand north of the Arctic Circle on the edge of Chukchi Sea, staring over at the Trump International Golden Dacha in Provideniya, in order to experience summer in Alaska.

Do you realize that we have only had about seven days completely without precipitation since Memorial Day? And only three of those days counted as "sunny" in weather service speak.

Yes, I am tempted so launch into a lengthy digression here about the "difference" between "partly cloudy" and "partly sunny" but I will refrain.

(Loud sigh of relief from the blogosphere)

Anyway, there are leaves in my driveway and have been for some time. 

Leaves always make me sad and not just wistful at the passing of the summer season. It's hard to be wistful about the passing of something that only seems to come once or twice every ten years. I am, of course, sad that I now have think about raking those leaves. 

I have been waiting a few weeks for a large rain storm to hit and wash them away, but we haven't even got that dribble of cooperation from the weather gods. Instead we get a little drizzle here, a little drizzle there. A hint of sun peaking through the clouds and a bone chilling (I exaggerate slighty) 50 degrees for most of the day.

Of course, there is always a chance (slim to none) that by the time this column sees print, summer will be in gorgeous bloom and a cloud will not darken our sky until weeks after Labor Day. Of course, there is also a chance that dollar bills will start floating down from the sky and we will all never have to work a day again in our lives. Anything is possible.

But just in case the skies are clear and blue and the temperature is toasty you are reading this keep in mind that the leaves are already collecting around us.

 And that, I suppose, is indeed a fine kettle of fish.

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