Spring Collage

In what was the swiftest transition from winter to spring I’ve yet witnessed across my four winters in ‘The Great Land’ we now find ourselves solidly into spring and starting into break-up.  Just a couple weeks back this area was experiencing daytime highs in the low to middle twenties and night time lows in the negative single digits along with a 32” (81.3 cm) snow pack; now we’re seeing daytime highs in the low to middle fifties and a heavy, dense snow pack of 10.7” (27.2 cm).  I’ve already killed many mosquitoes but to this point they’ve been those that ‘over-wintered’ apparently by hiding in decaying organic matter before the snow accumulated which generates enough heat for them to survive.  They are large, slow and noisy mosquitoes and hence easy to locate and kill.  As soon as we see much in the way of standing water within and around the periphery of the boreal forest these insects will lay eggs which will soon hatch into larvae that will become hoards of the much small, much quieter and far more ravenous mosquitoes I so abhor.  So it goes; this is south central Alaska…

As the snow dwindles and the temps rise so, too, does the daylight.  As of this writing (04/13/17) we’re already seeing 14 hours 41 minutes of direct light on our way to 19 hours and 55 minutes come the Summer Solstice on June 20th at 20:24.  Even without all these cues I’d know spring was upon us simply by observing the rather ‘flaky’ nature of my female Alaskan malamute (Anana); her behavioral changes are no doubt driven by hormonal shifts and while I’ve seen similar changes in other canines she really becomes wacky.  She is much more aggressive towards other animals – but she remains so loving of anything on two legs – and she is starting to ‘cock her leg’ when she pees.  She is also becoming even more headstrong than usual – I know of no other breed which is natively so headstrong – and she refuses to listen to me much at all.  Because of this I can only walk her at times when there are no other people with dogs out and about or I have to keep her on her lead.  I hate doing the latter as she spends much of our walking time sniffing out wildlife spoor and similar as well as running after Qanuk, my male GSD.  Assuming this spring is like all those previous this phase will last for maybe three to four weeks before she reverts to her generally mellow and regal self.

With the advent of spring I’ve taken to walking both dogs in the early morning hours when the air temp is still a bit below freezing and the ground frozen.  This area was once buried under glaciers and as the ice retreated it ground up inestimable rocks leaving behind a fine gray silt often called ‘glacial flour’.  This ‘almost dust’ clings to anything wet and the dogs are very skilled at getting their coats damp by breaking ice and wading in puddles.  The muddy result is almost impossible to remove with a wet towel; it has to dry and then slowly fall off their coats.  When walking them in the afternoon when the ground is soggy they are covered in dirt and I generally force them to spend 90+ minutes in the mud room after we finish.  This allows maybe 50% of said mud to fall off but that still leaves more than enough to make my floors ‘crunchy’!  Not that I needed the assistance but I can easily locate all of Anana’s favorite sleeping areas just by looking for the layers of gray silt she leaves behind.  This is life with two large canine companions in semi-rural south central Alaska.  It can be a pain but I wouldn’t do without my two family members just because of a bit of mud!

I’ll leave you with a collage of recent images and a few from previous springs as well; I hope you enjoy the beauty of Alaska’s spring!

EBD,Break Up & the Kidz

The dogs enjoy the beginnings of break up during a walk along East Barge Drive

Mud Room floor

There’s about three times as much ‘glacial flour’ on the mud room floor as seen in this image

Roof snow and ice on driveway

This is why Alaskans are careful about where they park their vehicles during the spring thaw!

Cloud Capped Denali Awaits Climbers

‘The High One’ – Denali – is capped with clouds and blowing snow as he awaits the crush of climbers due to begin in a few weeks

Matanuska Glacier

The toe of the mighty Matanuska Glacier as seen from the Glenn Highway in early April

Front Porch Colorful Sunrise

A beautiful Alaskan sunrise greets the rapidly disappearing snow pack

13 thoughts on “Spring Collage

  1. I know, right???? CRAZY fast spring. You turn around and more yard is showing. Heard on News 2 tonight, your area is WARM!!!!!

    • ‘Morning Kris – YES, it has been very warm up here with a week’s worth of high temps in the upper forties to middle/upper fifties! The constant sunshine is getting boring but this is the first winter I was actually happy to feel spring coming on. Twice this week I’ve set the Toyo at its lowest setting and opened windows; it was great to let fresh air waft through the ole homestead! Never seen the transition happen as fast or be as short; hope this doesn’t mean a hot summer! As you mentioned, every time ya look someplace there’s more bare ground showing. With that said we’re still seeing 80% to 85% snow pack but it is down to maybe 8″ on average and with nothing but sunshine and warm temps predicted across the next week it’ll no doubt be all but gone by next Friday. Of course, the large piles of snow in shaded areas often last until June…

  2. Your description of spring’s arrival is excellent and much appreciated since it is my first in 20 years that I will miss. I remember “fondly” the sounds of the roar of the ice sliding off the roof and the heavy drone of Alaska’s first ‘crop’ of mosquitoes. What I will miss most is those first few fish caught each year and how wonderful they tasted after months without any.

    • Hey Pete – THANKS for the kind words; wish you could be up here experiencing the almost warp speed of this spring. It is impressive just how warm it has been; we’ve seen highs between 51.5° F and 57.2° F across the past five days with more than two weeks of sunny days. The latter is becoming very boring but it is what it is. Time to get the kidz outside for a walk before we breach the freezing mark and everything turns to mud! Bet ya don’t miss that, eh..?!?

  3. Oh my, so beautiful.

  4. Thanks for the kind words! As I’m fond of saying; “Alaskan landscape makes it easy to take beautiful images!” Still wish I had your talent for working in the black and white medium.

  5. OH wow…. These pictures are lovely, specially Alaskan Sunrise, breathtaking!! Alaska is so beutiful…

    • Thanks for the kind words! Alaska is indeed a majestic land in terms of geography and wildlife. I’ve often said ‘Alaska’s incredibly gorgeous landscape makes it easy to take beautiful pictures’; this is so true. I’m lucky I live surrounded by such amazing beauty and so many large and wild animals!

      • You are not just lucky, you consiously made it happen, and it looks worth it!

        • Given this was a two decade old dream of mine I kinda felt it was a case of ‘better late than never’! I visited Alaska annually from 1996 through 2005, sometimes twice a year, and I just couldn’t get enough. Your comments have energized me to put together another collage this time featuring Alaskan skies/weather. I’m a HUGE sky watcher, especially the night sky, and weather fascinates me so I have a reasonable collection of images. Look for that posting in a few days and ‘THANKS!’ for the inspiration!!

          • Can’t wait for it. 🙂

            • I awoke this morning to accumulated graupel on the grass and downed leaves. Unusual to see such stuff as late as May 20th although up here it can, and does, snow at any time of the year. The situation provided more material for the upcoming collage!

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