April. What a lovely time, in concept. It's supposed to bring the showers that are warm and gentle, like the supposed arrival of spring, and best of all they promise flowers.
When I think of April in Alaska, I see snow piles rotted through with brown cavities, yet somehow not fully melted.
I think of car tires blasting through lakes that have formed in the roads, the muck appearing in yards, off the streets, and in front of the office as it sees daylight for the first time since snow fell.
Then I imagine, for yet another time, myself hitting the fast-forward button on the month. Or I picture myself on a climate-controlled plane with a cup of apple juice in front of me and my flip flops in a backpack, heading somewhere truly warm.
But inevitably I'm here, because I already used that flight back in February when things were still dark and my husband gently suggested I do something to improve my winter attitude. I'm here, scrolling through the newsfeed on my phone and seeing snapshots of my friends' daffodils and brazenly revealed upper arms, taking in some sunshine on a bike ride.
These photos are taken in places where April showers actually bring May flowers. These photos exist to make Anchorage residents like me feel inferior and, yes, foolish.
April, as I've explained to my friends in the Lower 48 who suggest visiting, is simply the worst time in Anchorage. I explain to them, there is this thing called "break up." When they're confused, because break-up in the Lower 48 is what people do when they're done with one another, I have to elaborate.
"You know, when it's snowed a whole bunch and then all of a sudden everything melts and for, like, an afternoon where you live, your backyard gets mushy and there are puddles in the street?"
"Break up in Anchorage is like that, only after an Alaskan winter, with snow everywhere. It melts all at once and that all at once is in April. The worst time in Anchorage? It's break up time."
So my Lower 48 friends book their trips for a better month, like June or July, and go back to posting their seemingly harmless pictures of daffodils (that cause me sadness and pain, and make me question my decision-making ability, because why would someone choose to live in a place where daffodils don't grow in April?). I take in the sight of Anchorage, dip a toe in the watery mire of our fair city, and decide to go inside. This is only after kicking the rotting snow bank. In short, I have an adult temper tantrum, which usually finds me sulking indoors and watching Netflix while 9 p.m. sun shines tantalizingly into my leaving room. The sun won't leave me alone.
However, sometime in the month, I start to (slowly) have a change in attitude. This change happens when someone hosts a barbecue and I'm standing on a back porch, realizing it's still daylight and we're grilling.
It happens the first time I drive down to Bird Ridge on a weeknight to get an after-work o'clock hike in.
It happens as some sidewalks start to appear from beneath the puddles and I can run again. When I decide to go to Seward for the weekend and camp in the back of the truck. When my friends' cheeks feature new, ruddy, sunglasses tans.
April exists to make the rest of the months in Anchorage feel better. It exists as the final knock down, drag out fight of winter. Breaking up really does bring out the worst in Alaska, and I will be glad when it's over.
Alli Harvey lives, works and plays in Anchorage.
BY ALLI HARVEY
DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT