Days pass, and now a heat wave

April 28: When we arrived 4 weeks ago the snow was almost waist deep and we had to shovel our way to our house. Night temperatures were from 15 below to the teens, daytime highs in the teens or low 20’s. Things warmed gradually, and a week ago we finally had a night without frost.
Since then the temperatures have suddenly soared. As I write it is 7:30 and the temperature is 41. In the daytimes for the last few days it has briefly reached the 60’s. The Alaska weather forecast calls this a heat wave. Snow is melting like a popsicle on a summer day, and there is water and mud everywhere.

At first, when we walked up Tofty Road with the poodles, flocks of little silvery birds swirled before us. There were so many of them that they reminded us of swarms of big bugs. They seemed to be foraging for food in the snow, especially where it had been turned over by the snow plows. Now the birds are gone, I guess flown north, and there are real bugs flitting around. Bugs and spiders just seem to appear the minute the weather warms.

Spruce grouse are calling in the woods. Bea has a pair of plump rosy-red grosbeaks at her feeder. The grass around the hot springs is vivid green. There are pussy willows. By this afternoon we should be able to walk in the birch forest behind our house without getting in snow.

Ice is still firm on the Tanana River. We check the landing now most days. Ice breakup is spectacular, and jams may cause flooding. There are already flood warnings. Our house is on high ground and would not be affected, but Bea and Al’s is on low land, and they are worried. Jerry says if there is a flood the electricity will be off since the power plant is on low ground. In that eventuality we can practice our subsistence skills.

I will remind Jerry to take the gun with us when we walk, just in case we should meet a hungry black bear.

April 30: Jerry replaced the chipped linoleum bathroom floor with imitation wood laminate. He had to remove the toilet and sink, and in doing so broke a pipe and caused big lot of water to get on the floor. There was a lot of swearing. I was upstairs in my tiny “studio” painting a tiny painting. I asked if I could help and was told no, there’s only one mop. So I stayed upstairs and the dogs did too, since they have to be with me at all times. Tonight I have a beautiful new dry bathroom floor that matches the rest of the cabin.

Daytime temperatures are now over 70. These are records for this date. We took our walk in the woods this evening, up the trail through the birch forest (Indian land we are not supposed to walk on, but who will know?) Mosquitoes swooped. The snow is gone but there was a lot of water running down the hill. The forest floor was covered with dry birch leaves and green growing things like moss and evergreen ground covers. We saw some piles of fresh looking moose poop, and some other kind, perhaps owl. The bare white birch trunks and branches against the dark blue sky amaze me.

There is much talk of flood. The ice on the river still looks pretty solid, but if it jams, as it has south of here the river may overflow



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5 Responses to Days pass, and now a heat wave

  1. Jan says:

    Despite the threat of floods and such, I find myself intrigued and a bit envious of your life in Alaska.

    Yes, I’m crazy – but we knew that already.

  2. Alan G says:

    Four weeks ago? Gosh it doesn’t seem like you all have been gone that long. I sure hope you all or your neighbors don’t have to deal with any flooding.

    I hope the bugs don’t get to be too bad either. I have heard they can get really bad at certain times of the year up there. I think that might be worse than the cold.

    Sounds like you all had a nice “squisshy” walk! 🙂

  3. Annie says:

    I hope it doesn’t flood. I am glad your poodles are keeping safe with you. I was worried after the one ran off earlier in your trip.

  4. Tessa says:

    To be honest, Anne, what you’re describing is my idea of hell – bugs, bears, and mud! I’m a city girl at heart, alas. But you make it all sound so fascinating. And Jerry really is a treasure. A man who can fix things is above pearls, in my humble opinion.

    Be sure to make lots of noise when you go walking in the woods. The poodles would make tasty morsels for bears waking up from hibernation, cross and hungry.

  5. Old Woman says:

    Jan, Alan, Annie, The danger of floods seems to be past. It flooded east and south of here, but we are relatively dry. The bugs don’t get bad until June, and then we will be back on the island. Bears have been seen near the river, but none around our house, and Jerry is a really good shot. We take the gun when walking. Which just goes to show how different my life is from what it used to be. I never thought I would be anywhere near a gun.

    Tessa, how right you are. I have been connected to more men that I oughta, and Jerry is not just competent, he can do anything. How did I get so lucky?

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