April 2, 2015
Doesn’t this sound a lot better than “break-up”?
Pussy willows the last day of March
Alaskans all know that this is not the prettiest time of the year. Here in Fairbanks, the snow is covered with sand, dirt, and coal ash from our five coal fired plants in the area. Large puddles splash up as cars slow to ease the mud that covers the windows and dirties the vehicle even more than the accumulation over the past few months. Others roar through the puddles without consideration of the consequences and surprise unsuspecting pedestrians.
Large mud puddles
Yet it is filled with hope, as the days rapidly grow longer, the greenhouses are putting out plugs and plants, and the snow recedes–this year, at a very rapid rate of speed! The box stores all carry seed packets for those industrious enough to get a head start on the short growing season. Blogs, posts and emails are shared with the latest “how-to’s” of indoor gardening. Already we’ve been able to wash those south facing windows to let the sun shine in. All the energy that light brings is evident, as even the most pessimistic comments on how nice it is outside. I went for my first trip to the greenhouse to pick up some plant for my baskets. Usually I don’t have any baskets out until May. Yes, I am gambling; but it just feels safe. ( I can take the baskets in if we do get a sudden cold snap) Any excuse to be outdoors; let me walk the dog, patrol the parking lot, pick up the mail at the end of the driveway. It’s just too pretty to be inside. We, (again) broke high temperature records last week with a high of 52 degrees. Believe it or not, that is amazing for the end of March in Fairbanks.
May 15, 2013
Usually a balmy 70 degree temperature is what you would find as you roll into Fairbanks in mid-May . The trees would be green with fresh growth, flowers would be placed in pots throughout the city (even if they did come back inside at night in the rare event of frost at night). On the hills a beautiful green glow of promised spring would be evident.
No so this record breaking year. This morning’s Fairbanks Daily News Miner pronounced that not since 1964 has the record cold been broken: it was 21 degrees early yesterday morning, and not much warmer today at still below freezing, 28 right now. While not unusual to see piles of dirty snow in shaded areas around town, they still remain in even larger portions in abundance. I watched as my son got into his car this morning, with his telltale frosty breath still visible at 6:40 a.m.
I know summer will come. It’s just that it is taking too long. The starkness of the birch that have not yet budded is rather haunting, like a deserted and forgotten frozen north. Yes, the sun is bright and daylight began at 4:26 this morning, and won’t set until 11:10 tonight. But do you know that they are predicting SNOW on Friday, with a 50% chance of precipitation? How are we supposed to justify buying flowers in greenhouses when survival chances are against the odds with this kind of weather!
I do remember snow on May 15th, followed precisely four months later with a September 15th dusting; but it didn’t stay around either time. The concern I have this year, is that if it did snow, it might just stick around a little longer….
My housekeeper gifted me with beautiful tomato and zucchini plant starts that are guarded inside on my kitchen windowsills. I dare not place them in the greenhouse, where normally they belong. Even with the passive solar design, it is just too cold.
My advice, as usual, is that you definitely need layers when you come to Fairbanks. Only this time, the layers you might bring should be ones that keep you warm at just above freezing.