Alaska is twice the size of Texas. Before the oil pipeline was built, there were 226,000 in the whole state. By the time I arrived in 1982, there were 400,000. Alaska was a place where someone could move with five dollars in his pocket and end up a millionaire – if he worked hard and was smart.
The other day I was walking Fitz the Fearful, my 165 lb Irish Wolfhound, when I was forced to pass three moose on the last corner before my house. There was no other way to get to my house but to pass them. Along came a man with his two boys in a big beautiful black pick up truck. He stopped the truck between me and the moose so they wouldn’t see us. A few yards later, there was another moose grazing across the street and down a couple of houses from mine. The man and his boys pulled in between me and the moose and drove very slowly so I could walk the dog unseen to my house. I don’t know this man. That’s Alaskans for you.
Alaskans stop traffic when a mother goose crosses the road with her goslings. Stopping for goslings is an acceptable excuse for being late to work.
In Alaska, if you pull over along the highway – say, to dash behind a tree – someone will pull over in a few minutes to see if you’re okay. You learn to look for a really big tree to squat behind.
In Alaska, it’s polite to remove your shoes when you enter someone’s home so as not to track dirt. Even if you’re going to an upscale event, all the pretty ladies and sharply dressed men will be in their stocking feet. I once played my harp as background music at a Christmas party in stocking feet. In that same vein, Carhartt overalls are acceptable dress to The Nutcracker ballet.
In Anchorage, many small businesses, such as my own humble law office, take Fridays off in the summer. What’s the point of living in Alaska if you’re going to chase a puritanical work ethic, I ask you?
More than half the state attends the annual state fair to see the giant pumpkins. The local network affiliates report from the state fair and the giant pumpkin winner is always big news.
Stubbs the Cat is the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, and has been since 1997.
We have a mountain in Alaska. It’s the tallest mountain in North America. Until a few months ago, its legal name was Mount McKinley. Alaskans don’t care what the rest of the country thinks, its name is, and has always been, Denali.