Friday, August 31, 2007

Castles in the Sky

Towering cumulus over the mountains across the bay from Homer. I took this from the base of the Spit on my way to work this afternoon.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunny Day

Lots of sunshine today but the lenticular clouds over the Kenai Mountains suggest rough air at altitude. I pulled the car over on my way to work to take this picture from Beluga Lake.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August Twilight

Just after I left the airport to head home after work last night, a glimmer of light over the mountains across the bay caught my eye. I pulled into the parking lot at the base of the Spit and watched the moon rise.

We had some thundershowers yesterday--an event so uncommon that I had to leaf through the handbooks to figure out the proper way to code it into our weather observations. Pilots reported several lightening strikes and the humidity increased to such an extent that low stratus clouds lingered into the evening. But by 9:30, the skies had cleared, leaving this vista.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


You would have to live in the Northland to appreciate the bittersweet beauty of fireweed. This time of year it is everywhere--transforming empty fields, roadsides and river bars into scenes of astonishing beauty.

(This particular plant is growing up between the planks of the back deck to blossom beside my domesticated flowers and rival their beauty...)

But late-blooming fireweed is the harbinger of autumn. When I see it, my thought inevitably turn to the lengthening nights, the cooler mornings, the not-so-far-off first frost.

Before that happens, of course, fireweed puts on quite a show. From nothing in late April, the plants have grown to five-, six-, seven-foot tall spires crowned with dozens of the bright-colored flowers. Soon the blooms will be replaced by the seed-pods, which will burst with the frost to loose thousands of cotton-winged seeds to drift on the winds of autumn like fairy snow. The September temperatures will turn the rest of the plant scarlet--our hills and mountain-side flame into October with the ghosts of the fireweed.

We don't have the colorful deciduous trees here as they do in the Northeast--maple or oak. Our birches and alders wear autumn leaves in shades of yellow and gold--no oranges or reds.

But the fireweed lends the late summer and autumn of Alaska a certain glory.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Moose Picture

Just across the road from our driveway this morning, this young moose was browsing his way toward the Inlet.

Denny was calling cautionary warnings from the porch, but I kept a respectful distance--and this critter was less dangerous than his Mama, accompanying a younger sibling, would have been.

May kindly moose-spirits watch over you, little bullwinkle...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Blooming August

A stroll around our yard this evening.

Beautiful, ubiquitous fireweed...

These specimens were about seven feet tall...

Paintbrush is yellow in Alaska...

...kissed by the evening sun.

Cow parsnip offers bouquets of bridal-white flowerets.

About a decade ago, I got three trollius plants from a friend. They still are holding their own amid the wildflowers, surprising me with orange-yellow blooms in August. This one shares space with a wild geranium called cranesbill.

At one point, I started a garden outside our dining room window. The alders and fireweed have encrouched but the trollius asserts itself in late summer.

I love the way the low-angled sun illuminates my Icelandic poppies...

Sorry if I bore with the flower photos, but I want to remember summer when the snow is deep in the yard.