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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Can it be Spring?

Can it be Spring if we never had Winter?  Or should we just call it Blah?  At least yesterday we had a light frost.  Today it is raining again.

Yesterday while walking around the house I noticed that the crocuses are blooming, the daffodils have put up their leaves, and the salmonberries are budding.   The birds are beginning to sing in the morning and the lawn is turning green.  UGHHHH  I feel cheated.

Come on Winter show us your power.  Put all these harbingers of Spring to rest.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sometimes Island With Stuey

Recently I haven't had enough one on one time with Stuey. I  can just tell when he becomes extra needy. Or doing not-so-wonderful things to get my attention. With Nora in girl scouts, I have lots of mommy-daughter  time  with her on our way to/from meetings but haven't had good connection time with Stuey away from Nora.

This morning, Stuey was way excited at the prospect of mommy-son outing AND going to Sometimes island-a place he's never been to before.  I knew the tides were low and I appreciated how excited he was to go check it out.

The rain and wind pelted us from the sides and our jackets were soaked just a few minutes into the walk.  But it didn't matter  as we walked across the mudflats towards Sometimes Island and the bunker on the island which Stuey was very excited to see.

On the return hike we took the beach route and the tide was starting to come in. Stuey took joy in seeing how deep the water was and testing out the heights of his boots.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Deluge After Deluge

These pictures were taken during and after the last deluge earlier this week.  During the storm the eagles hovered on the updrafts above the cliff in front of the house.  After the storm all the snow froze and turned rock hard on Pyramid.  I was actually sort of surprised that we did not lose all that much snow high on the mountain.

Now there is another one coming.  Gale force winds, temperatures in the 40s, and inches of RAIN.  UGHHHHHH.  All these storms from Hawaii are pushing our cold air down into the lower 48, and judging by the news stories they clearly don't appreciate it.

My fear is that with global climate change this could be the new normal.  Last year was the warmest year on record for Alaska and this year is shaping up as even warmer.  Perhaps a changed climate and warmer Gulf of Alaska waters has changed the flow of air across the Pacific.  Perhaps every year we will see the same jet of warm air from Hawaii to Alaska setting up the same series of wet, warm storms we have endured for the last 2 winters.  Could this storm pattern be the new normal?  I hope certainly hope not.

I'm too old to sell my skis and take up surfing, or as Nora put it, 'Maybe we should move to New England so we can enjoy the snow'.  Patrick

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

No Winter Here

Lately the national media has been all over the recent snow and cold on the East Coast. Street scenes with towering banks of snow and talking heads jabbering away about the hardships everyone is experiencing and all the snow accumulation records.  Supposedly it is 'unprecedented' - with 'records going back to the 1870s'.  And yet I think they have missed the real story.  The real story is the warmth and lack of snow in Alaska.

I don't think East Coast weather is big news because cold and snow is what's supposed to happen in winter.  Maybe it is a little more extreme than usual, but its still winter weather.  What's happening in Alaska and on the West coast really is unprecedented.  Here on Kodiak Island in Alaska we are still waiting for winter to arrive.  This is sort of like having no Summer on the East Coast.  Imagine if it snowed in July?

Funnily enough, it did snow a few times in New England one summer way back in 1816 after a series of volcanic eruptions had caused a dramatic global cool down.  It was a year 'without summer' and contemporary accounts relate that many lakes stayed frozen for the entire summer.  Imagine if that happened today?  Can you imagine the uproar on CNN if there was no summer in Boston?

The reverse is happening here on Kodiak Island - we live in Alaska, and yet, no winter yet.  On Kodiak none of the lakes have frozen over, my garden is still going strong, and we've barely gotten any snow.  It's barely even dipped below freezing.  It's been more like a normal winter for Richmond, Virginia than for Kodiak, Alaska.

Researching this blog post I noticed that the Anchorage Daily News picked up on Alaska's abnormally warm winter in today's paper (click here for link).  But they did not make all that big of a deal about it.  And Anchorage has had some winter - if not as cold and snowy as usual.

This morning I culled these weather maps on the internet.  Check out the temperatures across Alaska today as compared to the lower 48 (but also be aware that the color scales are offset about 20 degrees).  It's above freezing in Fairbanks, Alaska in mid February!  That's AMAZING - far more amazing than sub zero temperatures in Boston.

Also check out the forecast for Jackson,  Mississippi as compared to Anchorage, Alaska.  Pretty darn similar.  WOW!  And that kale in my garden is still kicking - and not just surviving but putting on growth.  Patrick

Stuey with a healthy kale plant still producing in the garden

Surf's Up

Surf's up at Mill bay Beach

On Sunday and Monday Kodiak experienced a pretty serious storm.  Pretty dismal Monday morning with high winds and pouring rain.  It was President's Day so no school for the kids or work for the parents, but no one wanted to go outside either.  It looked like a holiday spent cooped up inside.

But in the afternoon it cleared off and while returning from my daily ski I noticed that the surf was still pretty big at Mill Bay beach by our house and there were a few people surfing.  So I grabbed the kids and we went to the beach, cameras in hand, to catch the action.

Mill Bay is not known for its surf but it sure is convenient.  I'm sure that surfers with more time on their hands went elsewhere for the perfect wave, but the waves seemed big to me at Mill Bay Beach.  Pretty cool that people surf within 150 yards of our house!  Patrick

Stuey capturing the surfers in action

Nora camera in hand

Nora took this picture of a boogie boarder in action - I have not looked at Stuey's pictures yet

Monday, February 16, 2015

Relentless Surf

Ft. Abercrombie on a serene day this winter. 

When my soul feels unsettled, I enjoy watching the ocean  surf crash against the rocks of shore. Somehow it reminds me how seemingness small I am in the world, and what powerful forces of nature are at work all around.

 I've started a routine where on my Ft. Abercrombie walks, I stop and sit and watch the surf at the same lookout. The waves roll in and crash against the large rocks which comprise the shore.

Why or how have I walked through the park for so many years and not taken the time to sit and watch the ocean is my only question. Makes me realize how getting exercise, or fresh air, or conversation with a friend, or the dogs exercise are the reasons why I go though the park. Its  just as important is to sit and be. And enjoy the ocean.

It has been windy for the past day and the waves today were remnants from yesterdays storms. Even after the winds have died down locally, the large waves still roll in…off of the gulf of Alaska.

These rollers along with a high tide cause a large white froth on the rocks as they crash. And then it all churns under. Debris gets thrown around. And then it happens again. And again.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fountain Day

Patrick found this picture deep in his shelf when looking for a book. I chuckled at the memory!

Ithaca College Fountain Day-Its after our last physical therapy final exam. My physical therapy class had just completed our pharmacology final and had wet suits ready to get into to jump into the school fountain. It was a cold, overcast May day and we were glad to have the wet suits! Several of our physical therapy professors watched on as splashed around like crazy people in the fountain. The beverages were on the strong side, as I ended up in the college infirmary for a few hours after.

I googled "Ithaca College Fountain Day" to see if it is still a senior tradition-and it is.  There are videos of seniors splashing around and cheering. Its a rite of passage…a time to celebrate the completion of an era of our lives.

The girl second from the left is my friend Amilia…she was my BFF in college. She was raised in Ashland,   Oregon and she and I were good friends-two of the 3 people from the West Coast. The others in the 90 person program were primarily from the East Coast.  Amilia and I were similar in our West Coast thoughts and likes. Amilia now lives in New Mexico and I hope to visit her someday there.

These moments seem like another life time ago. Even though I don't see my college friends as much as Patrick, I know that when we connect again it will be like no time has passed. I can imagine the laughter and stories now….I think I'm yearning for a college reunion!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Survival Skills & Sometimes Island

The tidal flats of Sometimes Island

Today I piled 4 girl scouts in my car and we drove out to Bells Flats for an afternoon gathering. As the girls talked about their pets in the back seat,  I obliquely listened to their conversation about how many pets they have, how long they've had them, etc and my mind wandered back and forth from their conversation to my life.

The rain came down on the windshield. It was heavy. Thoughts ran through my head.  
My  week at work.  Clients I wonder about. Friends who are on my mind.  Today being Valentines day. The rain.  I hope the rain stops in time for the hike. Hiking in the rain would stink. But I would do it.

"Mom, we're not going to hike if its raining, are we?" Nora asked. I think she must have been reading my mind. 

I smiled. "Uhhh….yes. I don't believe we'll melt in the rain" I responded. She didn't respond back. She must know her efforts in persuading me otherwise would be futile. All the girls came well prepared for hiking in any type of weather, yet I know it will be much more fun if the rain stops. "Please stop in time for our hike" I said silently to myself. 

We arrived to the house where one of the scouts family lives. A scout dad (Ryan) was leading the patch skills for Arctic Survival Skills. Last session with him we learned about stages and symptoms of  hypothermia and space (emergency) blankets. All the various uses…blanket, tarp, reflective device…

 Today we learned about signals; how to make signals in case of emergency. It was so much more than SOS. Anything in 3's can be a signal. 3 large logs on a beach. 3 Piles of branches in snow. 3 blares of a horn. The possibilities are endless. Ryan in his prior rescue swimmer day talked about when they would fly in helicopters, they would look for things in 3's.  So much I learn at the scout meetings.

 I looked at the girls faces- they were curious and thinking too. All the possibilities of 3's. 

All this survival outdoors talk made me  want to hike. Far. Get away by myself. Never before have I craved an adventure on my own. I just saw the movie "Wild" in Oregon and I was inspired.  I  think I could do an adventure on my own. I don't know where I'd go, or if I'd go with someone,  but I just want to go. Plans swirl in my mind and I"m not as afraid of the unknowns. Being outside and with the elements of nature are some of my favorite times.

And it helps mitigate the emotional pains which come along with living and being. And loving.

The sky cleared, rain stopped and we headed to Sometimes Island for a hike. This is an island which is hikable only low tides. On high tides the small isthmus leading to it is covered by ocean.

Today, the tide was in our favor.  The girls ran ahead on the tidal flat. This group of scouts loves exploring beaches.

The sun made an oblique appearance through the cloud filters. We reached the trees and enjoyed hot cocoa and valentine rice krispie treats.

We walked along sharing the day together.
Not just surviving but enjoying.