Saturday, September 22, 2012


The autumnal equinox occurs at 6:49 this morning (September 22nd).  Many calendars list the day of the equinox as "the first day of autumn", though of course the autumn season is determined more by weather conditions than a date on the calendar.

As this photo, taken yesterday evening shows, autumn is well advanced here in Alaska's Interior.

An autumn day in the Stardancer dog yard.
 This time of year we are losing about 7 minutes of daylight each night.  Moose are coming into rut and bears are seeking every possible food source to build up a healthy fat reserve to see them through the months of hibernation.  Snowshoe (varying) hares and ptarmigan are starting to show their white winter colors, leaving them visible and vulnerable against the orange and brown background of the autumn woods.

Motor homes and travel trailers are heading south on the Alaskan highway, a sure sign that winter is coming soon.  Most have out of state license plates, but a few long-term Alaskans seem to join that outflow of escapees each year, seeking a warmer climate during the coldest seasons.

It seems like summer was short this year, probably because I worked so hard to accomplish major projects here at home this year.  I'm very pleased with the work I did, though.  The new lay-out in the dog yard is a huge improvement, and the new equipment shed seems to be doing the job well enough.  Building a dog food storage shed was a bonus, a project I had hoped to be able to do but didn't really expect to make it happen.  Although there were some things I didn't get to do, I am content with the accomplishments of the season and contentment is a rare blessing in this day and age.

I'm getting a late start in this year's dog mushing season.  I haven't yet taken any of the dogs for a run as I've been preoccupied with my "do it" list and preparations for the winter ahead.  During my next R&R I have to spend several days in Anchorage for my annual medical refresher training.  We are changing the schedule of our annual training as it's easier for most of us to spend the time during October rather than May.  Though it means I lose a few days of training next month, the benefit is that I won't be losing valuable dog-mushing time during March, which is almost always the best time of year for running the teams.  In November I'll be spending a week in the Lower-48 doing a clinical rotation in Kentucky.  The up-side to that is I won't have to worry about job related training during winter, so I'll be able to focus nearly all my attention on the team.

Ready or not, summer is gone and autumn will very quickly give way to sure enough winter.  I feel like I'm as ready for it as I can be. 

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