Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Hills Are Turning

The clouds lifted today for the first time in several weeks and the alpine meadows on Thunder Mountain have turned gold. It's only a few weeks since the last patches of snow melted, and already we are moving out of summer and into autumn. The days are growing shorter; I no longer climb the stairs when I go up to bed without turning on the lights. Soon I will be turning on the ones on the exterior stairs when I leave for work so that I will be able to see to get the key into the lock when I get home at 5:30. If there were no clouds around, I would be able to see stars at night now for the first time since early May.


It isn't just the grass of the high meadows that are turning. The leaves of the mountain ash are becoming gold and rust, which is breathtaking. The red of the berries hides within the curtain of leaves, adding depth and interest to the color. In the spring, before the new leaves are out, the flocks of chick-a-dees will return and strip the berries from the trees. A moderate sized flock can devour all the berries from a large mountain ash in less than half an hour. I used to have one outside my bedroom window* and one wonderful early spring day Missie and I happened to be at the window when the chick-a-dees invaded. We were both entranced.

There are fewer and fewer bear sightings mentioned in the newspaper these last few days, which means that they are beginning to curl up for their long winter's nap. Soon it will be safe to put out bird feeders** and throw table scraps, French fries, and donut holes onto the patio for the ravens. So different from California autumn, where the harvest is in and the rains come and the hills turn green.

We have had a record breaking summer for rain this year. Very few days without some; I could have used a few more. I don't like several in a row in July and August because it gets too hot for my comfort, but one or two at a time are very nice.

* It has since been taken out because carpenter ants were nesting under its bark and then migrating into the building. It was a beautiful tree, but I can understand the landlady choosing her building over it; there is little income to be had from a mountain ash tree.

** While the bears are awake, that is a $50 fine. Too many bears that have had to be killed because of excessive habituation to human beings have been discovered to have a stomach full of bird seed.

19 comments:

Tabor said...

That mountain view is somewhat intimidating for me. It makes me feel small. But that may be just psychological as I always think that way when I think about Alaska. It seems like such a big intimidating state with intimidating weather.

Maya's Granny said...

Tabor,
Alaska is a huge state, and the weather can be something indeed. However, the area where I live is more temperate and because of the mountains and ocean, has a cozy sort of a feel to it. This part of the state has a very small feel. It is the state capital, and only has 32,000 people. The smallest state capital in the country. Of course, since the city and borough are combined, and the borough is larger than many counties in other states, it is also the largest state capital in the country. That's Alaska, often contradicting itself.

Ally Bean said...

Bears eat bird seed. Who knew?

You live in a very different part of the US than anyone else I've ever known. I enjoy your descriptions of what it is like.

KelliAmanda said...

Yay - fall. My favorite time of the year. The weather here has turned mild and I'm just soaking it in.

Maya's Granny said...

Ally Bean, Yes, bears eat bird seed. Also, they eat used cat litter! People have tried putting cat litter on top of more tasty garbage, thinking that would discourage bears. Turns out it attracts them! If that isn't disguting, what could be?

Rain said...

Nice pictures. You must have gotten all of our rain up there. Normally Oregon would have some through the summer but our last real rain was in June. It's soooooo dry.

Tracy said...

Your photos are lovely. It looks like a very picturesque and peaceful place to live. Your writing is beautiful, too. :)

Autumn's Mom said...

hmmmm I guess my dog would love it there too also being a lover of the cat litter. haha Hey a bear's gotta eat when they have that long sleep ahead. My lazy inner self wants to be reincarnated either as an indoor cat or a bear. To slumber all winter, sounds like heaven!

saz said...

Love the view from your house - it's exactly what I imagine Alaska is like but I'm not sure I could navigate in the extreme weather (like snow).

Chancy said...

What a lovely view. Mountains in the distance make me think of the Almighty;

from Psalm 121

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh even from the Lord: who hath made Heaven on earth."

Ginnie said...

What lovely photos and the description too. I enjoy reading your posts and also the comments.
I was in Fairbanks in August, but it seemss to be very different from your area. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Anvilcloud said...

I don't so much mind winter (in fact I kind of like it) but I don't so much like all the hours of darkness. It must be even harder up there.

lorettambeaver said...

It is turning here in Kotzebue too! We have had lots of rain too! Yet I won't complain if the snow will just wait a bit longer. The warmer it is, the less heating fuel it will take, and the price has sure jumped this year. I enjoy your photo's too! You can see some of my photo's at buzznet.com, love your big sister, Lori

Betty said...

I love reading your posts and photos, too. Your descriptions are wonderful. I am fascinated with Alaska, and love reading the mysteries by Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow, just for the descriptions.

Deja Pseu said...

I really miss living somewhere that you can actually experience autumn, which is my favorite season. Here in LA everything just keeps getting hotter and drier and smokier (from all the wildfires) until late October when we then alternate between rain and 80 degree days until January.

gawilli said...

It must be absolutely beautiful where you are! How wonderful for you and great that we can enjoy it through your lenses. Thanks.

J said...

I've heard that the flavor enhancers that they use in the cat food comes out in the cat poop, and that is why other animals are attracted to it. The world is sure a strange place sometimes, huh?

lorettambeaver said...

Well it has been rainy here in Kotzebue too! Warmer than snow, so won't complain. Gold and breezy is preferable to white and extreme. I love your photo's too. I have some posted at my buzznet page, some 400 plus, with some old and some new. Love your big sister Lori

Joy Des Jardins said...

I love this time of year...everything changing colors. We're not quite there yet, but your pictures are beautiful. Autumn is by far my favorite season. We've been having a lot of rain lately as opposed to earlier in the summer. Today is perfect...pre-autumn.