Two weeks ago the grocery stores put out the rubber boots for sale. The gardening sections exchanged their display of snow blowers to lawn mowers despite green-up typically isn’t before mid May. In Alaska, greenup is like pushing a button. The first signs of spring even though temperatures were still in the negative double digits (less than -23.3oC)
Last week the temperatures finally were above the freezing point during daytime. Snow-melt set on. Since the drainage system was still at below freezing temperatures the melt-water froze upon flowing into the sinks. The results? The drainage system gets clogged with ice. Consequently, all further melt-water has no way to go. Huge puddles exist all over town. Of course, gutters have the same fate. Water drops from the roofs, sometimes building long icicles.
Streets and driveways that hadn’t been plowed after the last snow storm turn into a mix of snow and water. When they are dirt roads you have the perfect recipe for mud.
At night, temperatures go below freezing. Thus, water freezes at the top of the puddles building areas of pure ice where the puddles are not deep. The water on wet streets freezes as well. You see little crystals reflecting the light of the beams of your head lights. It looks pretty, but the streets are worse then what you were used to during winter.
Because of all the water, rubber boots are in order. However, they conduct heat very easily. Thus, your feet get cold in no time. People wear double sock and rubber boots with jeans and a light jacket during day time.
Alaskans who can afford it have It Xtratuf. These boots are insulated. Thus, they don’t have the problem to get into the boots with doubled socks. Some even come with steel toe cap. Of course, it must be the Legacy one. They are brown and about mid-calf height. Around the sole is a beige trim as well as around the opening. These boots are so It that brides even take their Xtratuf to their outdoor weddings.
Since the Alaska It rubber boots don’t come with a high heel, I don’t have a pair. You know I love to find statement heels shoes and scored a pair high-heel Hunter boots. I wear them with boot toppers during melting season. This means these boots get out for about a week each year.
The piles of snow along the streets turn gray or even black from the dirt and gravel that remain in the snowpack when the water runs away.
I don’t like the melting season because it brings out all the dirt of winter. Not only gravel that was used to roughen the roads during winter or seeds and needles that fell off the trees. Once the snow goes away it gives sight to all the lost mittens, scarves, candy wraps, plastic shopping bags, trash bags fallen off from pickup trucks, and whatever people lost or disrespectfully threw away during winter.
Typically, in May, there is a clean up day. On that weekend volunteers collect all the trash in yellow plastic packs. These bags are then transported to the landfill. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer when one would bring the trash directly to where it should be?
Focus Alaska is a series on Alaska lifestyle, curiousa, insider travel tips, and Alaska street style.
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Photo of me: G. Kramm
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