Holiday Confusion—This is the odd space between Christmas and New Year’s. It is difficult to know actually what day of the week it is—and what we actually should be doing. I believe we have mostly completed Christmas. We have honored Chanukah. We have saluted solstice. The holidays are nearly all but over, except for the New Year’s celebration.
New Years—In Palmer, the New Year is another one of those intrinsic affairs—with no major community celebration but lots of little ones. Many head west to Wasilla for the big Fireworks show on the lake. Some head south to Anchorage for some big city New Year’s Eve action. Many revel at private parties or bonfires. Some take a snore in front of the wood-stove. Board games, dice, cards, charades, videos, pot-banging and frozen bubbles are annual New Years activities.
On the mountain behind Palmer, we get to watch everyone else’s fireworks from horizon to horizon. It is impressive. There are thousands and thousands of dollars invested in private firework pyrotechnic displays. You can only buy them in Houston, Alaska and normally they are illegal. Except for now. So firework enthusiasts get very excited and light off a lot.
Animals start their new year stressed and on-edge. Animal owners start their new year placating the poor pups and animals who generally hate fireworks. The primal instinct to run away from loud foreign noises causes losses and abandonment. Babies are scared. Even many adults are somewhat unnerved by the staccato of bangs and booms, reminiscent of violent war times.
Other Palmer New Year customs include the yearly visit to the Blow Hole, which has a newly reconstructed viewing area on the Glenn Highway, right over the river. Some walk on the riverbank and construct small fires on the gravel. Some go to church. Some shoot their guns. Some climb Lazy Mountain and set off flares at midnight. The local bars will be full and the skies will be full of fireworks. Thank you for sharing. Be safe.
PALMER’S WORDS OF THE 2017 YEAR
There have been many, many suggestions for Palmer’s Word of the Year. It’s difficult to choose one. But there are several continually reoccurring themes in the hundreds of submissions. Here they are for your end-of-the-year enjoyment:
Finial—This is the Red Cherry Ball that was placed on top of the iconic Palmer Water Tower. Finial is defined as a distinctive and decorative ornament at the apex of a roof or structure. All around 99645, people took much pleasure in seeing its tip top placement on the pinnacle of the tower.
March—There were a number of meaningful marches in the past year. The Women’s March, the March for Science, and of course the March in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. There was also the march of the Mat Su Miners for the Championship.
Word/Book—The continuing success of community tales in Palmer’s Untold Stories program is clearly a function of ‘word.’ It is the Creatives offering poetry slams and readings. ‘Book’ is a word of the year because so many wonderful books were produced about Palmer and this area. There are many fine authors and writers agonizing over the perfect word choice for our stories. Sadly, ‘word’ also represents the notorious and shameless graffitti spread selfishly around town.
Grow—This is the obvious reference to the organic growth of vegetables in our delicious soil. But it also is our town’s well planned development. It is the GROW Palmer food trail, near the depot and across from the police and troopers’ building. It is the recent increase in coyotes and Stellar Jays. It is the popularity of the Butte hikes, the Fattie Bikes and Brew Pubs in our area. It is the demographics of folks using the library and the city services. It is the increased shopping opportunities in downtown and the increased awareness of community vision. It is the growth of the picker, the painter, the author, the artist, the planter, the musician, the biker, the runner, the quilter, and the baker in Palmer. Growth also applies to the level of crime, substance abuse and associated theft.
Change—Expansion and honoring history are difficult bedfellows. But Palmer is doing it with graceful small steps.
David—This is a significant word for our area. Without much explanation, “David” characterizes the heartbreaking result of senseless violence and the continuing ugliness of the Valley’s hidden underbelly.
Fire—Yes, ‘fire’ is also a word of the year. Local fire has taken lives, buildings, acreage, animals and souls this year. A growing awareness comes with each touch of fire. Safety is ratcheted up but the losses are still a huge, aching sacrifice. Let’s remember the “Five Little Girls,” the children, the fire fighters and first responders. Let’s honor the lodges and homes and humans who have been lost to fires. Let’s celebrate the phoenix rising from the flames as evidenced on Main Street with the Jenski building.
Beauty—This is our continuing love letter to Palmer. The stunning mountains, the sunrises, sunsets, the auroras, and the bluebird days are what heat the soul of the painter and photographer. It is what jazzes the hiker and the runner. It is what we gaze and ponder and never take for granted. The surrounding beauty just never quits.
Windy—Yes. This too.
Peaceville—This term was offered, along with a number of variations, for Palmer. Paz Town, Friendship Village. Unity Place. Sisu. Concord. Acceptance Town. Palmerific was the adjective suggested along with Palmerania. These are fun descriptors of our crazy little 99645 place. Many folks offered words like ‘upbeat,’ ‘lively,’ ‘alive,’ and ‘buzzing’ when explaining the Palmer niche. My favorite is ‘precious.’
Perhaps the best one offered is ‘heartful,’ recommended by Stephanie Bass. Regardless of your choice, Palmer resonates with quirky and spontaneous, loving energy and it is our home.
Happy New Year.