If I’ve learned anything during my time in Alaska — aside from how to loosen lug nuts with a blowtorch — it’s strategies for overcoming inclement weather. And I mean without intoxicants. Or Netflix.
Now, I like to think I’ve built immunity to seasonal affective disorder, itself a condition known as seasonal affective disorder-disorder. Honestly, I dig lengthy stretches of precipitation — great excuse to make nachos and listen to Radiohead.
But lately, climactic conditions have turned particularly nasty. How nasty? I quote “Forrest Gump”: “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night…”
That about sums up summer 2017.
I’ll put it another way. If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops, this past week alone would’ve sent the entire city and borough of Juneau into hyperglycemic shock.
In times like these, even a rugged indoorsman like me can catch cabin fever (although, really, we live in a split-level ranch). And whenever I feel it coming on, I remind myself of the old adage: when the going gets tough, the tough clean out their house.
Oh, wait. I’m sorry, I mean “muck” out their house. Alaskans don’t clean out anything; they “muck” it out (just like how Alaskans don’t get into “fender-benders;” they “roll in the ditch.”)
To live here is to wage constant battle against muck… and usually lose — especially if you have kids. In this way, a thorough mucking-out can prove curiously satisfying, like the psychological equivalent of cutting your toenails.
This time, I’m really going after it, not only mucking out current muck, but a bunch of back-muck, too. For the first time since I divested myself of every possession that didn’t fit in our Subaru on the long drive up here 12 years ago, I find myself getting rid of things.
Just partial list of items: an iPod dock with no iPod docked in it; a giant pile of last year’s schoolwork, just in time to start accumulating this year’s; every towel, sock and pair of underpants with a hole in it; every broken piece of junk I stashed in the back of every closet (and under the stairs); a juicer that hasn’t juiced anything since the first Obama administration; a surprisingly complicated, unassembled piece of home exercise equipment mostly in its original packaging, but sure to be missing several key parts… along with the instructions; (in the garage, which is ground zero for muck) a set of old, bald tires I’ve been hanging on to — just because they’re old and bald, doesn’t make them bad; several totes of very outdated audio-video equipment I scored at a state surplus sale — remember those?; three different vacuums broken in three different ways, each attributable to my repair attempts and, of course, the various plastic bags we’ve stuffed to bursting with other plastic bags.
That’s to say nothing of all the egg cartons, paper towel rolls and scrap paper we’ve stashed away as “art supplies.” Either they start supplying art, or they’re going to supply kindling.
And the muck doesn’t stop there. On the contrary, removing surface muck reveals a whole layer of ground-in, caked-on muck you didn’t even know existed. And, at least in my house, coffee stains on every carpet. Oh, and more dust than you can shake a Swiffer at.
Needless to say, it’s been a muck-fest over here. Of course, I try to be environmentally conscious and use earth-friendly products. In fact, I just picked up a two-gallon jug of something called ECOS Plant Powered All Purpose Cleaner. Here’s what it says on the label, verbatim: “Tidy up fast with the cleansing strength of…” wait for it, wait for it… “parsley.” For real. ECOS Plant Powered All Purpose Cleaner with the cleansing strength of parsley — that’s an actual item for sale in Juneau right now. In fact, there’s probably some under your sink this very moment.
You know why people hate liberals? Because we buy and sell products like ECOS Plant Powered All Purpose Cleaner with the cleansing strength of parsley. Actually, “Parsley Plus” it says elsewhere on the label. Look for it next time you shop. Just be sure you buy the one with the cleansing strength of parsley and not the one with the cleansing strength of cilantro. A lot of people make that mistake.
Point is, if there’s a silver lining to this heavy, leaden cloud of a Southeast Alaskan summer, it’s that it’s turned me into one tough mucker.
Sure, lashing rain may force me to spend all afternoon stuck playing Monopoly with a 6-year-old banker who pitches a fit whenever I try to help with the math, but at least I don’t have to do it in my own filth.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday.