Recently, someone asked me how my husband, Jerry, and I first met. Jerry has been living in Alaska since early 1972, having moved here straight from southern California at the tender age of 19.
I took a rather longer route, as seems to be my norm. Although also born and raised in southern California (actually, less than 50 miles from Jer’s home town); I left sunny California for the snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1984, where I was still living on that fateful day in 1996.
Ahh … the saga of Snowgoose & Frosty. It was quite the story and brings back fond memories of the early days of the Internet. Long before cell phones, Facebook and You Tube; all we had (and we thought it was pretty great!) were online chat forums, loosely based on hobbies and interests.
I was still pretty new to the Internet back then and I think I was only on two or three forums; GoatsLite, PygmyGoatPen and a Creative Writing forum whose name I don’t recall.
I lived on a 40-acre farm, only ten miles from the shore of Lake Superior, where I raised plump little Pygmy goats and big, white Embden geese. I worked winters at the front desk of a local ski hill. Alaska couldn’t have been further from my mind.
I guess if I hadn’t been open to the possibilities of life, I never would have left California. I’m glad I was adventurous enough to embrace the challenges of moving across country (the good and the bad of it) or I never would have found my beloved little farmstead in Michigan.
It’s a home that brings more good memories than bad, was where I met several women who I still think of as the dearest of friends … and if I hadn’t been there, reading my GoatsLite forum that day in 1996, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So … how did I meet Jerry, (aka “Frosty” to most of his friends)? Well, settle in – Frosty writes quite the story.
I guess you could say it was written in the stars.
Once upon a time (actually, early in the winter of 96 -97) “Frosty” (Jerry) was working nightshift for the State of Alaska DOT. This night was special and when he got home the next morning he sat down at his computer and wrote up his experience in story form. Also being a hobbyist metal worker, he sent the story off to friends on his Art Metal forum.
Someone on that list thought the post made for good reading and sent it off-list to other friends . . . you know how these things happen.
The next day, he received numerous responses to his story from as far away as New Zealand as well as the far reaches of the United States! One of the responses was from someone named “Snowgoose” who had read his post on a Goat List. A Goat List? Yep, he did a double-take when he read that, and being intrigued by the web-handle, “Snowgoose”, he wrote back. Writing that story started something that was bigger than he ever expected!
This is the story Jerry wrote and posted to the world. He titled it, “CELESTIAL DANCE”. Side note: when I read it on my GoatsLite list, it had been retitled “Hale-Bopp From a Snowplow”. 🤷♀️
Subject: Celestial dance
Had a very, very good night at work and thought I’d vent some exuberance on ya’ll. 🙂
I spent my first full night on the Rolba snow blower tonight, doing a blow back. That’s where we pull the snow out of the ditches as far out as a road grader will reach, then we blow it farther out so there’s room to plow the next snowfall off the roads.
Anyway, this is a powerful machine; it’ll move over 1,500 tons of snow an hour, it has lots of controls and it’s kinda tough to keep under control. At least for a newbie on the hill roads. 😉 I was having a good time, really enjoying the challenge.
Well, I’m pulling into the Park (parking lot) to turn around for my second pass down Upper Huffman Rd. and there’s a lull in the northern lights. The lights have been really dancing all night; sheets, curtains, streamers, loops, etc., not much color but lots of action.
Anyway, they’re taking a break as I pull up and I’m groovin’ on the stars now, it’s the first really clear cold night we’ve had in weeks and the stars are glaring down in colors so hard and sharp, they look fake.
Well, I gotta wait anyway, while Rick, the grader operator, gets turned around and starts pulling another windrow for me to blow, so I just park the blower, get out and stare at the sky.
I’m standing there, under-dressed, star gazing at -15F and something catches my eye, something unusual. I see a fuzzy star. Hmmmm. I say to myself, “Self. Why is only that ONE star fuzzy?” There’s a really little star right next to it and it’s so sharp it’d poke a hole in your eye if you’re not careful.
Hmmmmm, is there an itsy-bitsy puff of cloud covering that one star? I stare at it for a bit and it stays exactly as fuzzy as when I first spotted it but as my eyes adjust the fuzziness seems to be spreading and mostly in one direction. Hmmmmmm. Kinda . . . like . . . a . . . TAIL!
“HEY SELF!!!!!” I shout at myself! “That’s . . . a COMET!!!!! That’s Hale Bopp!!!!!!” Then . . . the northern lights start back up, better than before, dancing and weaving, over, under, around and seemingly with, the celestial visitor.
All this is going on over mountains, lit by the moon and stars, with Anchorage’s lights off to the left and below. It’s kinda like Alaska’s saying hello and welcome to the neighborhood.
As hospitable and friendly as Alaskans are, I’m still hoping any comets just swing by for a brief visit rather than dropping in for a stay.
Anyway, I climb back in the blower and send one of those sekret coded messages, so’s nobody knows what I’m talking about, over the radio. I says, “Uh, Rick, Bob, Anchorage-37.” 37, that’s my radio number. Oops, spilled the beans didn’t I. Oh well, too late now.
Rick answers first, “Ya, go Frosty.”
And I say, “Uh, I need both you guys back here to take a look at something for me.”
Bob hops out of the arrow truck (he’s parked right behind me) and Rick backs the grader into the parking lot and jumps down. I’m standing there looking at the sky, Bob’s looking at me and Rick asks me, “What’s up, Frosty?”
I point at the sky and say, “See that bright fuzzy star?”
Rick says, “Yeah.”
Bob says, “Where?”
I say, “About four fingers above that notch in the mountains, to the left of that stand of spruce trees.”
Bob says, “Yeah, okay, I see it.”
I say, “That’s Hale Bopp.”
Rick does a double take, “Hail . . . BOB!?”
Bob looks at me like I’m messing with him again. Everybody messes with Bob. It’s fun. 😉 Not this time though. “No,” I say, “Hale BOPP, B.O.P.P. It’s a comet, the biggest comet in recorded history.”
Now, there’s three of us, under-dressed, staring at the sky at -15F, watching the comet, northern lights and stars. Then somebody suggests lunch. Good idea. We all park our rigs facing the celestial dance troupe, shut off all our lights and spend lunch watching the show.
The show wasn’t over; it lasted till it was too light to see this morning but we had to get back to work. All you had to do though, was look over the mountains to see the lights and comet.
Yes, my friends, a very, VERY fine night at work. If you look north, you’ll see my grin. 🙂
— If it ain’t forged
It ain’t real
wrought iron is
4 thoughts on “Celestial Dance”
I LOVE your “beginning story”! You are both awesome writers!
Wow, I’m so happy to see you sharing your marvelous stories! I do *not* remember the name of our writing group! But through it we met, Deb. We share some intimate details and the friendship was glued together. You and Jer met and communicated regularly; then you visited both MI and AK. There was a wedding and we celebrated from afar.
It wasn’t until 1999 that we finally met, when we drove from FL to CA to meet Margie and Miles, and the four of us were Alaska Bound! We spent six wonderful weeks with you, Jer, the Pygmy goats, dogs and cats! Love, Judy
It was a crazy, happy time, for sure. Everything happens for a reason. I just wish the good times could last longer. 💗💗(((hugs)))💗💗
That is a lovely farm. I’ll bet it was hard to leave it. And that photo Jer took – beautiful!