The wonder of the world, the beauty and
the power, the shapes of things, their
colors, lights, and shades; these I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.
This. Quoted from an old gravestone in Cumberland, England, and used as the final text in Frank C. Craighead, Jr’s book For Everything There Is A Season: The Sequence of Natural Events in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone Area.
I watched an eagle soar past my window the other day. Always there are birds in my window view. But the magnificent flight of an eagle….gives me pause every time. This one held its dinner firmly in grasp as it flew past. Life. And death.
My great big windows have been such a gift during our time in Alaska. They allow me to easily observe the changing seasons (some are significantly longer than others!) and as month follows month and year follows year, I am learning to anticipate what’s next.
I’m discovering that this familiarity allows me to build on my understanding and knowledge. For instance, last summer I snapped this photo of the fireweed on a hike to Mt Baldy in late July.
At that time, I had learned its name. I also knew that I have a bank of it in my window view and it is scattered all through the ditches of my neighborhood. What I did NOT know was the common local lore attached. After attending a class at the Botanical Garden, Ryan recently began muttering about the countdown to the end of summer now that the fireweed is in bloom. Then David came home one night this past week and commented that a co-worker told him the fireweed has come early this year, and so then shall winter. It was time to go to the interwebs for more….
I found numerous articles to support this notion that Fireweed is our Summer Clock. “…..each fireweed is a living, blooming chronometer of summer, brilliantly marking the season’s progress…when the plant reaches a height of a foot or two, the first blossoms will emerge several inches below the tip. As summer progresses, the petals will climb continuously higher. When they reach the tip, summer is all but over.” (This from an Arctic Science radio story produced by the Alaska Sea Grant College Program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.)
Now I’ll be watching more closely. And marking time. Winter dark is coming our way. But! I have new skis and hopes for good health. I’m gonna be okay.