Story last updated at 4/15/2009 - 11:03 am
Winter has been pretty quiet out here at my remote, isolated beachfront cabin in good old Southeast Alaska. The loons, seagulls and old squaws can get a bit noisy and the local, overwintering Canadian geese chat incessantly, but the bears are sleeping and the wolves didn't come around this year. Pretty quiet.
So with the sky gray and the ground frozen and the daylight short, I've just cruised through winter, grateful for days when the waves are gentle enough or the ice on the bay thin enough to run the skiff to the dock and the truck. After that I can attempt the 70 mile drive to town (if plowed) for groceries and fuel. Sometimes the logistics tend to make the winter seem longer.
This time of year, the anticipation of summer is strong and luckily the long, dim days are finally yielding to subtle change. Spring, with pushy insistence, demands to be in charge right in the middle of March according to the calendar, freezing temperatures notwithstanding.
Thankfully, the tilt of the Earth's axis has begun leaning toward the sun again in the Northern Hemisphere, so the sun rises higher in the sky and stays above the horizon longer, and its welcome rays strike the ground more directly.
The reaction to that action is a mix of warm and cold air that is typically unstable. It's not all robins and daffodils. March inevitably means gales, blizzards, hail, rain and maybe flooding in parts of Southeast Alaska.
There's a month for you! With wild mood swings, March delivers a variety pack of weather so you can try out all the storms in quick succession.
You get your rain showers and your snow showers and your hail showers and just enough sun thrown in there to sucker you back outside - repeatedly, in a single day!
Best of all, you get the variety pack in juggled order all day long for days or weeks!
What fun! How do you dress for this?
Even though April tries to take credit for the good stuff, March kicks off the progression of seasonal changes that bring new growth and new life in spring. Already two eagles have been remodeling and updating their motif at the old hacienda, a nest that is used year after year over on a nearby island. Ravens fly by with sticks, and geese feed hungrily in the new grass on the beach. None of them go about it quietly.
Robins feed up and down the beach now, along with thrushes and flocks of other small, migrating birds. There's new growth on the blueberry bushes and the fresh, new edible spring seaweeds are showing up on the low tides.
The other day, while standing on the beach in front of my cabin, I heard (probably) a sapsucker pecking very loudly and thought "Where is that huge, hollow, dead tree?"
Later, come to find out, it had been pecking on one of my empty plastic water barrels - what an echo! - and made quite an impression. Hopefully he realizes the futility of it and will engage his energies elsewhere in the future.
There is still a lot of snow around here on Prince of Wales Island but things are looking up in my book. Now if only we had a little... sun?
Carla Petersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org