The Great Equinox Flood of 2012, Part One

“Now if it will just quit raining I can start roofing”

Talk about famous last words! That was how I ended my previous post.

The minute I got the roof metal in to the cabin it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Not rain-y. Not wet weather. Not showers, or drizzle. RAIN. Pouring down, hammering rain, all day and all night. For two months. Not only did I not get any roofing done, it soon became doubtful whether there would even be a cabin on which to put the roof. The whole thing was kind of nightmarish, frankly. It all peaked on September 21st with the Big Flood. I’m writing this a month later. Besides dealing with the flood, and then, finally, the roof, I have been having a hard time getting this posted because I want to tell the whole story, and it’s a lot to write. I have now realized that I can just post it a chunk at a time, and consolidate later if I want. Or not – this a blog after all. So, for starters, I will show the picture that pretty well sums it all up, taken by local pilot Jim Okonek on September 21st, at the height of the flood. More of the story to come… in part two.

Aerial view of flooded rivers , Talkeetna Alaska, September 2012

Look for the cabin, just below the center of the picture, framed by two pairs of spruce trees.

Hello Darkness

Every year in August it starts to get dark at night. And every year I take it as an affront. What’s this nonsense? How am I supposed to see?

Time to dig out the flashlights and headlamps. You know, from that special place I put them so I would remember where they were. Um….

People generally assume that midwinter is the darkest season here. Wrong. Least hours of sunlight, yes. But darkest, no. The darkest time is now, with leaves still on the trees and no snow. It’s the only time we ever have can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. When the leaves go away and expose the sky, and snow covers the ground, it is never this dark again.

This then is also the only time of year there can be scary noises in the woods and you absolutely can’t see anything. And the bears are still out and about. Not my favorite scenario.

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It’s August, fall is here.

Actually I see the very first signs of fall about July first. A yellow leaf here, a red leaf there, where before was only green and more green.  Nothing much, but the message is pretty clear.

By mid-August there is a lot of color in the undergrowth and the trees are just starting to show signs of changing.

White birch trunks in the morning sun on the trail

My Commute: White Birches glow in the morning sun on the trail.

Cloud show

Is there a meteorologist in the house? I find the behavior of thunderstorms in south central Alaska puzzling. It’s as if they are adapted to a northern climate, just like the animals. I grew up in New Jersey, and have spent time in many other parts of the lower 48, where thunderstorms occur. And they occur when it is hot. Like 85 or 90 or 100 degrees hot. Now around here, if a thunderstorm was waiting around for those temperatures, it would be waiting a long time. Apparently realizing this, they go ahead and happen at 60 or 70, figuring that’s as close as they are ever going to get. We had one today – thunder, lightning, hail, the whole works. Maximum recorded temperature: 72. If any of you reading this live in the southlands, when was the last time you got up in the morning, saw that is was heading to be over 70 degrees, and thought “Oh Boy, we’re in for a thunderstorm this afternoon”?

Also we never used to get thunderstorms. Ever. Even as recently as 20 years ago, there just weren’t any. Now we get them on a somewhat regular basis. I know this is due to climate change, but it still isn’t getting THAT warm. They must be adapting.

This afternoon, THE mountain was hidden by clouds, but the sky put on quite a show to compensate.

Even Denali is dwarfed by these cloudmountains.

Birches turning their silver side in a rush of wind. It's coming!

The sky at slow boil over the airport.

 

 

 

Solstice. Already?

Every year it’s like this. Solstice comes WAY too soon. It’s a very significant thing around here, because it means now the days are getting shorter. But, But…summer just started, for crapsake! It reminds of the time I was in grade school: First day of summer vacation! Yeehaw! Endless summer stretching to infinity. I went with my friend’s family to a mall for a shopping trip. Not that I cared a bit for shopping..it was just exciting to go someplace, and have it not be school. On a weekday! I will never forget ( it’s been 50 years) pulling in to the parking lot of the store and seeing the enormous banner over the entrance –

BACK TO SCHOOL SALE!

I hope there is a special place in hell for those people.

So here we are, just getting warmed up, things are finally green and blooming and flowing and singing …and the days are getting shorter.

Northern sky at midnight, crossing the bridge. Let the midnight special...

For some more information on solstices and daylight, visit my much-neglected other site: http://www.truthormoosepoop.com/search/label/Daylight

Here is my view of the walkway at 12:15 A.M. While the waters aren’t exactly troubled, they are very high, fast and cold, with entire trees floating by as if they have decided to find a new home and are in a hurry about it. It is another one of those simple pleasures to have a fine bridge to get across.

First part of the "road" home, crossing the Talkeetna River.

A rare treat – summer moon

I usually don’t expect to see the moon from April to August, since it doesn’t get dark. Oh I might catch a glimpse of it, the way one does in the daytime, but never actual moonlight. I generally lose track of the current phase in the summer, while I am acutely aware of it in winter.

But the other night, circumstances had me running the dogs in to the cabin, arriving at 3 A.M. Still not actually dark, never used the headlight on the wheeler, but just dusky enough to see a little bit of moonlight on the river. Felt like a big treat!

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North Window Twilight In Spring

View from my north window in April

Spring evening light out my north window.

I know of few things more peaceful than watching the light fade ever so slowly on a spring evening in Alaska. The sunset is in the north, and lingers on until it becomes the sunrise. I am always reluctant to light a lamp at this time of year, preferring to let that magical twilight fill the cabin. Beats the living hell out of TV.