Fish Ears and Frog Legs
When I was stationed at the Point Barrow, Alaska US Navy weather station, I suddenly found myself caught up in a once in a lifetime experience. It was summer and warm, but Joe, one of my station mates read and reread the weather instruments, finally and reluctantly concluding that a kowillowa was almost upon us. Now, a kowillowa is as rare as an honest politician. It's a sort of storm, short in duration, but violent - and its defining characteristic is an extremely sudden plunge in temperatures. Usually occurring in arctic summers, these freak storms have been known to produce a plummet in temperatures from 78 degrees Fahrenheit to -65 degrees in the span of a second or two. When I asked Joe how long we had before it hit, he consulted the Doppler and announced, "An hour and 14 minutes".
Just then, an idea was born! I gathered all my warmest clothing, all the tin cans I could find, & 200 yards of parachute cord. I strung the cans together on both sides of a neighboring creek, donned every piece of warm clothing I could carry, hid myself, hunkered down & settled in to wait. Fortunately, Joe had predicted the arrival of the kowillowa to the very second. Just as it was about to strike, I pulled the cords with all my might, rattling the cans and setting up a terrible racket along both sides of the waterway. It scared the frogs half to death, so they jumped for the safety of the water. At the same time, all the fish in the creek lifted their ears clear of the water to hear what the commotion was about. THAT is when the kowillowa struck, and it froze the water instantly, trapping the frogs half way in, and the fish with their ears sticking out. Fortunately the temperature moderated somewhat as I returned to the storage hangar to fetch our rear bagger mower. I set the blade on low and ran it up and down the ice, collecting the fish ears and frog legs. We had a fine feast of a rare local delicacy that day, with enough left over for another meal for our 7 man detail.
That was in 1974. I keep in touch with some of my retired buddies, still in the navy. To their knowledge, and mine, the weather station has never recorded another kowillowa since that day.
Al Fassezke (grammar and spelling errors copyrighted)