Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Are You KIDDING Me???

Tuesday I was awakened early by a sandhill crane, apparently circling around my place calling loudly and persistently.  My thoughts were that the bird had lost his/her mate (there are plenty of lynx, foxes and other crane-eating critters in the area) and was frantically searching.  Then a friend of mine noted that he's been hearing cranes, apparently gathering for migration, for a few days now.  It's a sound I don't expect to here until late August or even early September.

When I arrived at work, I was informed that a small grizzly bear has been seen hanging around the work site, and that the cliff swallows, among my favorite 'skeeter eaters', have already left.  Indeed, as I made my regular rounds in the facility the swallows were most noteworthy by their absence.  Not a single one seems to remain on the site.  It sure seems early for them to have left.

Several of my friends have noted that the fireweed has bloomed out to the tops of their stalks.  Local lore has it that when the fireweed blooms reach the top of the plant, freeze-up is only 6 weeks away.  As I made my early rounds tonight, I realized that not only has the fireweed topped out, it is already shedding cottony seeds.

A few cotton-like seeds can be seen barely clinging to this bloomed-out fireweed
As I made my midnight rounds last night it was evident that indeed, summer is fading fast.  The colorful sunset was followed by a couple of hours of true darkness, dark enough to see a few stars scattered across the sky.

So, my friends who noted these early signs of a rapidly approaching autumn really aren't kidding me.  We are losing 7 minutes of daylight each day, the fireweed has already topped out, and migratory birds are apparently already beating wings for more southerly climes. 

I'm still not ready to predict an 'early autumn' or 'early winter', though.  Having spent the past 20 years in this country the one thing I've learned with certainty is that only two kinds of people try to predict Alaska weather - newcomers and fools. 

Still, I have to accept that summer is more than half over and winter is approaching more rapidly than I am prepared to admit.

1 comment:

  1. Not Just in Alaska. Here in Tennesee there are signs of early Autumn. It's not as hot as it usually is this time of the year. Still hot, mind you but not in the upper 90's low 100's. Some of the trees are losing leaves. Of course that could be drought. But there is that "feel" to the air. That feeling that the rush is on before everything settles down for winter.