Springtime in Alaska

It's finally springtime in Alaska. I know this because I saw my first mosquito last week. Oh, the injustice - there's still snow on the ground and the little buggers are already here.

This "little" guy tried to munch on the baby's head within 10 minutes of our going outside on a nice April afternoon in the Anchorage area. No need to Photoshop it - this is an Alaskan mosquito, after all.

I also know it's spring because people have started emerging from their homes like bears out of the den, HUNGRY! We're hungry for light, hungry for green, and anxious to make the most of our short summer.

This week, as larger and larger patches of earth begin to appear from under the snowmelt, we're all puttering about outside trying to make spring come even faster. It will be a few weeks before we can put anything in the ground, and in fact, we aren't really uncovering perennials yet due to low temperatures at night.

Of course, this is a repeat from a few weeks ago, when we were duped by a few sunny days and the appearance of all the usual spring displays at the grocery store. Then came a few more snowfalls and the only things growing in our yard were dinosaur snow sculptures.

Typically in this part of the state the rule of thumb is to begin planting the week of Memorial Day, or even as late as June 1. That leaves just a few short months before "fall" hits, but glorious months they are.

Where else can you be out so late communing with your greenery or checking out your neighbors' displays while on a midnight bike ride? We have so much light in summer that it's easy to lose track of time and begin mowing the yard at 10 or 10:30 p.m.

Summertime is also about reconnecting with community. In my neighborhood there are several gardeners with years of experience and I'm grateful for their knowledge. I would not call myself so much a gardener as a "hoper." I dig around, plant, and hope that something happens. I'm easily overwhelmed by the too-many variables that affect why and how something thrives.

However, this summer should bring about a little more growth on my part, as many of my posts will include highlights from our neighborhood master gardeners. I figure I'll learn a few things along the way, and we'll have fun sharing our unique experiences from the Land of the Midnight Sun.


Mox said...

"Ahem" from the author. Maybe I posted that headline too soon. This morning it's been flurrying and we now have a quarter inch of snow on the ground with more to come...

Joshua McNichols said...

I've come to think of Summer in Alaska as a kind of Valhalla. Northern, kind of misty but populated by gigantic broccolis and kales, like dinosaur food endemic to some primitive lost world.
And if you go far North enough, the sunflowers circle around and around like owl heads, twisting after the sun until the flowers pop off.

I think of it as "like Seattle, only more so."

Is it true?

Is it anything like that?

Mox said...

It's difficult to get a picture of the whole state in summer, since it's so large -- more than twice as large as Texas, in fact. Summer extremes range from Barrow in the north, where the sun doesn't really set for 6 weeks straight, to Fairbanks where it's hotter than blazes, to the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska.

And Anchorage? It's true that it's "like Seattle, only more so" at least in one respect: days with cloud cover!