Jeremiah: “Would you happen to know what month of the year it is?”
Bear Claw: “No, I truly wouldn’t. I’m sorry, pilgrim.”
Jeremiah: “March. Maybe, April.”
Bear Claw: “March maybe. I don’t believe April. Winter’s a long time going? Stays long this high. March is a green, muddy month down below. Some folks like it. Farmers mostly.”
Weather in March in the “high country” can be uncertain and frequently changing, as this dialogue from the 1972 western ‘Jeremiah Johnson’ aptly notes. The above conversation was shared between Jeremiah and “Bear Claw” Chris Lapp as they chewed on some food around the spit after a long and tough winter, and a turbulent rough patch in Jeremiah’s life. March can also be unpredictable at high latitudes, and sometimes winter is a “long time going” particularly when your soul is ready for spring.
Last week’s glorious sun break was renewing for so many. Suddenly, the hold of the grey wet days was broken and there were signs of spring everywhere. There were also lots of smiles!
I was delighted when I discovered a silver dollar-sized rhubarb leaf glowing red and green in my yard. Rhubarb, the stalwart plant in many a southeast Alaska garden, is a true harbinger of spring and promises many a cobbler to come.
Although flocks of pine siskins have been at our feeder all winter long, last week their frenzied feeding activity seemed just a little more relaxed and sublime. Perhaps it was just me, but it seemed as if they were happy to stop and pose in the sun, which allowed me to get some nice photos.
The sunsets were varied and memorable. One evening, I watched the sun set with a few clouds behind Shelter Island. Just before it went down, the final rays illuminated the trees along the ridgeline providing an interesting silhouette. Another evening, I joined some friends for a fun photo shoot at Auke Rec. Steel wool lit on fire provides some interested effects, including this face, which is one of the many “smiles” I saw last week. And, on yet another evening, I ventured alone out to Eagle Beach and witnessed a stellar blue and orange sunset reflected in the river. Wonderful!
I also visited the Mendenhall Glacier on several occasions. One day several of us were treated to a group of five mountain goats feeding in close proximity to Nugget Falls. They lazily worked the slope, browsing on whatever looked edible, with significant pauses in between to just sit in the sun. I also noticed the first pussywillows of the season. I always like the contrast between their small buds in the foreground with the immensity of the glacier, locked in winter, looming behind.
On yet another day, I ventured to the Auke Bay boat harbor to see what I could see. Bird activity was minimal, but I did enjoy photographing “Noah” a live-aboard cat enjoying a sunny day on deck. I also spotted the track of a boat that had broken through the ice, anxious to get out of the harbor and onto the water.
As I write this post, it is temporarily rainy and gray once again. Yet, I welcome these days, as well, and prepare to celebrate a new season and new life in nature—all green and muddy and full of wonder. Check out the slide photos at the top for images of the sights I describe.