April 17, 2019
Today’s post began with spotting a beaver paddling downstream on a clear-of-ice Chena River. Mind you, this is the second week in April: we are approaching spring well over a month early. I must tell you this is really not the norm.
geese landing at Creamer’s Field
While some are still catching glimpses of the northern lights during the darkest hours of night, others are scanning the sky in search for the first goose to fly into Fairbanks. A ritual called the “goose watch” encourages anyone in the interior to call in when they first spy a goose overhead. The local Fairbanks Daily News Miner provided a history of the dates which indicate a trend toward earlier and earlier sightings. This year was the earliest sighting ever–March 30!
Residents have donned shorts and teeshirts, dug out their bikes, raked their partially thawed lawns, and all but sun-bathed. Greenhouses posted opening dates in the newspaper –perhaps to avoid the calls about when starter plants will be available? While walking today I found people fishing along the Chena. No, not ice fishing–but in wide open waters. Are we really being treated to such an early spring?
Yet another uniquely Alaskan event is the Nenana Ice Classic. A tripod is secured to the ice in the middle of the Nenana River; tickets are sold for a specific time when the tripod will tip over into the river due to the melting of ice; the winners are those who guess closest to the actual time the tripod tips. Proceeds from the tickets are given to both the community of Nenana and local Fairbanks charitable organizations. Again, this was the earliest that the tripod went out, April 14th to be exact at 12:21 a.m.
tripod in front of Nenana Bridge
We are all about setting records–most daylight, least daylight–just about any “most extreme” that offers us a chance to boast. I hope you have plans to visit the Great Land in the near future.
March 24, 2017
Beneath all the feet of snow (several this year) lies the good soil for planting. Gardeners are gearing up–already, despite the -15 below temperatures at night–doing everything from purchasing seeds to signing up for classes. Several greenhouses have a great line-up of classes starting this month: drip irrigation, composting, and dinnerplate dahlias.
planter in greenhouse-amidst the snow
Some of the excitement is clearly due to eager anticipation of the long sunny days of summer warmth. Another factor for some is geared toward healthy eating; yet another impetus is sustainable living off the land. You don’t have to be a trained gardener to get things to grow in the summer here; check out the Tanana Valley Fair in the fall, and see the myriad of monster vegetables that some of the school aged children grow as proof!
Yes, we do grow things big in Alaska. But you must remember that we have a very short growing season. Rule of thumb is that you do not put out any plants before June 1, and plan on harvesting prior to September 1. I have lived here for over 50 years, and vividly remember gambling by planting my 150 foot driveway with zinnias because it had been so nice and warm that May. Sadly, I lost them all, as there was an unanticipated frost that killed them all. I didn’t plant zinnias again for almost ten years. This year I’m determined to start more from seed and I’ve already picked up several varieties of seeds from one of the local greenhouses so I can get a jump start on my floral fix.
Pink flowers in barrel
Silent now; but soon, the sounds of lawn mowers will replace snow-blowers, and boat motors on the river instead of snow machines. Soon…with every drip off the icicles hanging from the roof.
April 23, 2014
Spring is here; melted snow has revealed green grass over half of the front yard. You see people on the sidewalks at 10 pm taking a leisurely stroll because it’s not only warm (+45 F) but light out still at that hour now. Bicycles are on the roads again.
The greenhouses are open; people are out raking their yards of the winter debris and prepping for the long-awaited gardening season. Just yesterday a guest stated what I was thinking; give me that dirt to dig in; it doesn’t drain me, but rejuvenates. Apparently it is therapeutic for more than just me.
UAF Agricultural Farm Baby Reindeer
A drive by the UAF agricultural farm reveals brand new baby reindeer. Just down the hill from the farm you can see some of the returning geese, swans and other migrational birds feeding on the grain that’s spread out over the fields in anticipation of their return. Spring and new life is in the air.
birds feeding on grain