Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Night

Last night was a lovely night for a moon-dance.

Actually, it was a lovely night for a sauna. I enjoy taking a sauna in the warmer months but the contrast between hot and cold temperatures makes the winter saunas the best.

It was twenty degrees and the ground hard underfoot as we made our way out to our little bathhouse. The sun had just set and only the brightest stars were visible. Our sauna faces east so we had a great view of the full moon rising over Diamond Ridge. Heavy frost on the grasses and weeds reflected the light of the moon and turned the landscape into a crystal-rimed vision. We took breaks from the heat of the sauna by standing in the cold evening air, bodies steaming, cloaked in moonlight.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cold November

It's a gorgeous morning: full moon and heavy frost brightening the landscape. The thermometer stands at 10 degrees and the world is frozen solid this morning. We are glad for the lovely, radiant warmth of the wood stove.

November is here and still we haven't had a flake of snow yet. Normally by this time of year we have had snow fall and melt and fall again in a familiar end-of-season dance, but this year the autumn just went on and on...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Change in the Weather

Another killing frost last night. Clear skies and a million stars this morning. Orion dominated the southern sky when I got up. The moon--which has been a slender crescent paired with Venus in the eastern sky these past few mornings--has vanished for now.

A thick layer of frost coats the back deck and the alder leaves glisten, reflecting the sunrise from rimed surfaces. My sweet peas lie defeated on the deck. I had only a couple of blooms from them before this killing frost. I love the fragrance of sweet peas but my growing season is too short for them. The relationship always ends with disappointment.

There are cat-tracks on the deck. Max? Probably not. The red cat seems to patrol here regularly and I haven't had a clear sighting of Max for weeks. We will know more when the snow comes and we have a chance to read the story of what goes on around here when we aren't looking.

As the sun melts the frost, the leaves begin to fall. The landscape is changing into winter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hidden Beauties

Most of the lush vegetation of summer has lain down now, wilted by the first frosts and beaten down by rain and wind. No longer overshadowed by native plants, little clusters of "volunteer" violas--grown from seeds escaped from my potted flowers--have shown up in the ditches and the margins of the yard.

The hardy blooms are among the last to succumb to the cold and may last into November in sheltered locations. I have found several pockets of color in the gravel of the french drain that curves along the alders behind the house.

I capture the transient cheer of the little blossoms with my camera, preserving them before their brightness fades.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

--Thomas Grey

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Last Flowers of Summer

Despite wind storms and the first few frosts, my potted garden still sports a few hardy flowers, but I know their time is limited now and one clear night can wilt them down to frost-burned shards. So today I cut most of the remaining blooms to bring inside and enjoy before they are gone for good.

Summer was good this year and I have been very pleased with how my garden turned out.

I suppose transience is part of the beauty.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wild Sky

The fall storms are coming and as we went about the yard making loose objects secure, the splendor of the storm-tossed sky caught my eye.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Year Ago

...we had our first snow on October 5th.

This year, it is sunny and warm (55F in the shade.)

I have a feeling our first snow isn't too far away. The peaks across the bay are snowing a snowline down to around two thousand feet, so another clear, cold night followed by a cold front may transform our autumn-bronzed landscape to white.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Signs of Fall

Taken Tuesday afternoon at the Hope Junction of the Seward Highway...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Misty Autumn Road

Driving to Anchorage on Tuesday...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tern Lake

Tern Lake sits just before the junction of the Sterling and Seward Highways and as such is a natural stopping point. The parking area can be bustling during the summer tourist season but on a Tuesday morning in mid-September, Tern Lake provided a point of stillness along our path.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On The Road To Anchorage

Just after eight this morning, hurtling down the Sterling Highway toward the Mystery Hills. Stopping for photos was out of the question, so I snapped as we went, lending a watercolor-like quality to the image....

We crossed the Kenai River at Cooper Landing. Looking upstream, Kenai Lake catches the subdued light of a cloudy autumn morning. The lingering, lonely patches of last winter's snow wait on the hill tops for reinforcements.

Although we were in the shadows of the mountains for a while after daybreak, the forest was bright and full of light from the changing colors of the leaves.

Morning light on the peaks of Turnagain Pass.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The End of Summer

The fireweed is almost all bloomed-out... ...and the elderberries have ripened in the August sun. A yellowish undertone has crept into the vegetation and autumn is not far from us now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yesterday in Alaska

Yesterday was a glorious summer day, so I kept my camera close at hand.

The flowers on the deck are a constant pleasure. I planted mixed seeds so I wasn't sure what I was going to get. I love the old-fashioned look of my flower pots. They look like a celebration...

I don't know whether it is the fine weather we've had this summer or the volcanic dust that fell this spring, but the fireweed have grown spectacularly this year. I have never seen them so tall.

These "weeds" can challenge the beauty of the cultivated blooms...

We needed to run an errand out to the Russian Old Believers' Village near Anchor Point. From the crest of the North Fork Road, lower Cook Inlet lay spread out beneath us. Mount Iliamna is the snow-capped peak on the far side of the Inlet.

The village is a bit of the Old World nestled in Alaskan wilderness...

The peaks on the far side of Kachemak Bay peek over the hills as we head home.

The deck is an inviting place to take one's ease on a pleasant summer day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tutka Bay

We went out to pull up our crab pots this afternoon. I snapped this picture as we left Tutka Bay for home.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Smoky Skies

The smoke from the massive fires in the interior has drifted down to our neighborhood. On our road trip to Kenai and back today, most of the scenery was veiled in smoke and low clouds. I took this from a high point south of Ninilchik heading toward Homer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Side Yard

Compare with the same view a few weeks ago.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bog Flower

I love these little flowers and have encouraged them to grow in our yard. Despite their rather inelegant name, their bright white star-shaped blossoms enliven the undergrowth with a touch of delicate beauty.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Naked Mountains

The fine weather combined with the dusting of volcanic ash we got this spring has denuded the peaks of their snow pack.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

It's "Screendoor Sunday" here in Alaska and we have a nice hunk of red salmon ready to cook over a wood fire in the backyard.

Denny went dip-netting on the Kenai River Friday and brought home two red salmon for the freezer. We saved out half of one to have fresh.

He found a simple marinade on-line that consists of lemon juice and olive oil with rosemary sprigs. We substituted dill weed for the rosemary. The fish was tender and juicy but I thought a tad bland. (Barbeque sauce helped there.)

Maybe next time we will try the recipe with the rosemary.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foliage and Flowers

I am always surprised by how fast and how tall our local plants can get in just three months. Many wildflowers and native plants are perennial--they store energy in their roots from one growing season to the next. It seems to be a successful strategy to cope with our brief summers.

Nootka Lupine

Nootka Lupine


Feels Like August

The air is warm and breezy but the humidity is reminiscent of our autumnal storms.

The vegetation has reach its peak growth and the seeds and fruits are ripening. Harvest comes early this far north.

Fireweed is spectacular--tinting the hillsides a purplish-pink. But their flowering spikes are the fuses of summer--when the flowers are spent, autumn will be here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Haze

I started noticing that particular summer haze about a week ago.

It is normally made up mostly of pollen, dust and--this year--volcanic ash being blown about bystrong day breezes then hanging suspended in the high-pressure dome that has built over Alaska. This year, the haze is fortified by numerous fires throughout our state.

In the past week, our air has become thick and summery.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009