Sunday, July 31, 2016

Who Was Here?

As I watch the storm clouds move in bringing even cooler weather, blocking the gentle sun and making the grasses dance faster, I cannot help but wonder what bear crossed this land just hours before my eyes gazed ahead, what camper shifted her backpack and pushed inland from here just weeks ago, what trapper set a trap at the mouth of that river decades ago, and what miner shouldered his gear and drug himself up that hillside in search of gold a century before my arrival?  What human hoped to tame this land and what human fell in love and surrendered to its beauty and power at this very same place where my feet now are planted?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Strength and Leadership

While homo sapiens, and I use that word loosely, are fighting over the leadership of my beautiful and wonderful and magnificent country right now, I want to post some truly majestic profiles of leaders from the other animal kingdoms that I took on my Alaska trip. 

 Even the majestic ones let their hair down and their rumps up once in a while.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Controversial Weed

Epilobium angustifolium or fireweed was abundant in Alaska. ( Known as rosebay willowherb in Britain as it grows circumboreal in range.)  This is a controversial flower.  How can that be?  Well, read on. 

This photo, a bit blurred, yet does show an egg mass of some insect near the top.

I heard several Alaskans say the did not like the flower.  It starts to bloom from the bottom and works it's way to the top.  When it begins bloom the traditional saying is that this is the beginning of summer and when the blossoms open at the top, then that means summer is over.  It is a ticking seasonal clock for some, it seems.

This perennial is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A if the early spring shoots are harvested.  Slender leaves and buds can also be used in salads.  If the leaves and blossoms are older they are tough and bitter.  The full blossoms are four-lobed trumpet in shape.  The herb is antispasmodic, hypnotic, and can be used as a laxative and tonic.  It also causes tissues to contract.  It claims many other medicinal uses.

It grows at the edges of the woods and in places where disturbed soil is located.  It is cultivated for reclamation of landscapes that have been eroded.  It grew everywhere on the hikes and drives that we took.  I am sure my Canadian bloggers know it well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Unusual Dance

Summer evenings and the skies get their party clothes on.  The opening act was just a teaser of what "might" come.

  In the second act a diaphanous wave of humidity came almost all the way across the sky trailing 700 veils.

She was imposing certainly.  My camera with its wide angle lens followed the dance to the right.

And that was when I noticed that odd caterpillar shaped "pup" beneath the dancers veils.  Do you see it on the mid-right?  Almost as if a finger had trailed the air beneath the humid cloud and stirred a different movement.

It moved gently to the left and began to undulate as if it was a younger dancer mimicking its mother and moving to center stage.  Such an unusual dance.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

Do you think he knows how beautiful he is or has he gone blind due to the 12-year-old girl behind him screaming? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Simple Beauty

Along a trail, well traveled enough to meet a few others, the textures of Alaska's woods are everywhere. They are an art that mother nature paints to inspire our artists. 

Pablo Picasso? 

Salvador Dali?

Gustav Klimt?

Makes one want to get out a paint brush and paints....

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Meeting of the Waters

Look at the photo above it...and think about what you are seeing. 

It is probably not what you think it is.  It is not a chemical spill, run-off from some mud-slide, run-off from a heavy rain somewhere up stream.

This is actually two streams meeting.  One, the clearer one, is a river formed from snow melt that began high on an Alaskan mountain and raced down the side of the mountain past Dahl goats and big-horn sheep and down past black spruce allowing them to drink before racing on into the ferns of the boreal forest.  Then it trips over smooth boulders and reaches the flat lands where it joins the other river.

The other river races from beneath a melting ice glacier and does not fall so far nor have time to drop its fine silt, the silt is granite that has been ground into a powder so fine you cannot hold it, so fine when it settles on the river floor you can drown in it.  It can grasp your leg like wet cement and will not let go.

In the photo above I was fascinated by this meeting of the waters. (As always you can click on the photo for a closer look.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

We Are In This Together

It was an unusually warm day just south of Anchorage, Alaska.  We had only been there a day and decided to visit a conservation area to see the animals in a safe environment before we saw them in the wild.  As I said, it was warm...

 I almost missed this guy in the low 70 degree heat...removed my jacket and then walked around to the front of the log cabin but could not get him to smile.

 A grizzly cooling his tummy on the muddy earth does not seem as intimidating as they truly are.