Wednesday, April 30, 2008

spring is a state of mind

i just knew it. i knew that if i tempted the spring gods with talk of spring, they'd yank away my last shred of hope that spring will actually return to the north land. i was so cocky, basking in the sunlight of the Clearwater, watching those ice shelfs drip, drip, drip into the river. hanging out on the deck in a tank top. what was i thinking? this morning, i woke to this:

that's Creamer's Field, an historic creamery that was long ago transformed into a migratory bird refuge and happens to be my office's back yard. that gray background is snow - wet, heavy snow and those little black dots in the foreground are a few hardy Canada geese souls braving the nastiness on their long journey north.

what's a girl to do when spring is like a slippery pig?

i think those few birds up there have the right idea. they're going along on their happy, if wet and cold, way because it's spring damn it. and they have things to do - like fly north and make babies on the tundra. i have things to do too, and they involve spring, so from here on out folks, spring is a state of mind. don't tell me about the weather. i don't care if a thin veneer of ice formed in the road potholes last night. i can pretend that my snow tires aren't still on. and that all those wildflower seeds i spread last week-end aren't frozen little nubs under a blanket of snow in my yard. or that we've broken snowfall records for the month of April. (APRIL! do you hear me, oh gods of spring???)

spring is a state of mind. and what better way to celebrate it?

you guessed it - a little spring knitting. with Charley, who's learning socks. in front there are two sleeves of a sweater for a little babe in Tennessee. i bet he's basking in spring weather. so am i, baby, so am i.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

wishful thinking

what happens when the wishbone breaks down the middle?

that's just what happened today. rarely do i have the chance to make a wish and pull one end of the wishbone anymore -- a thrill generally left to my childhood during holidays when big, fat turkeys graced the table. nowadays, my nephews and nieces get the honor, though some part of me still longs to grab one end, squeeze my eyes shut, and yank!

so today, when Cara presented one of these treasures, i jumped! we took a few moments to make our wishes. we decided to make generous wishes that each included both of us. we wrapped our pinky fingers around one end, pulled, and ... split down the middle! what does that mean??? as a child, things were one often way or another. as an adult, things are more complicated. but does this reality have to also taint the wishbone pull -- this uncomplicated corner of childhood? or is there another explanation?

any ideas?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clearwater caravan

ok, it's finally here. spring, i mean. here in Fairbanks, spring is a start-and-stop process until the warmer weather finally comes to stay. a few weeks ago, it was warm, SO warm, and then things went south and we got about 7" of snow inside of a week. need proof? other Fairbanksans noticed it too.

regardless of this schizophrenic seasonal confusion, we get out there anyway, weather be damned. that's why we gathered up our gear, pushed the snow off the canoe and put her in for the first paddle of the season. we headed out to the Clearwater, a wonderfully mellow river that remains ice-free for much of the winter due to its spring-fed source and so is a favorite among canoeists itchin' to get paddlin'! This is Cara doing her best snow-canoe bunny:

We put in on Friday night around 8 pm, paddled around a few bends until we saw this:

Our friends' cabin. now maybe you can only get to it by boat, but this place is DEEE-LUXE! a nearby spring from which to haul water, propane lamps and full copper stove, real wine glasses, all the utensils you can imagine, and an outhouse with pink shag carpet. oh yeah - pink carpet in the outhouse! who knew? after a fabulous dinner and a rousing game of Cranium, a few of us popped into the hot tub on the deck before falling off to sleep...the next morning we were up bright and early for our adventure paddling the Clearwater. this is a shot early on in the day -- that's Nuch's tail between my feet -- he sits in front of me while we paddle.

we marveled at the scenery and kept our eyes and ears peeled for the sounds of migratory birds who were due any minute back to the Great Land on their northern migration. Here, two of our group negotiate the shelf ice on their way to our lunch spot.

we found a nice spot, tied off and then lunch went as it often does on the river....

Food, then...

shortly thereafter, one arm of the Tanana blended into the Clearwater, we made a sharp turn and a mad paddle up a small river (against the current) that drains Clearwater Lake, where Mia and Steve snuck up on Cara and Gerken to hitch a free ride.

(see that silty water? not exactly the CLEARwater anymore...the Tanana is a glacially fed river and virtually impossible to see through. it was a far cry from the beginning of our paddle where you could literally count the stones on the river bed.) but our paddle upriver paid off and we were rewarded with this sight:

loads of swans and Canada geese taking a brief respite at the lake during their long journey north, or as Greg Brown once said about migrating redwings, "to talk over the long journey and sing..." i'd love to know just exactly what all those honks mean. this early in the season, the lake was still partially covered with a thin layer of ice, strong enough to support a bird...

...but not a dog, as Nuchie found out when he decided that he'd leap out of the canoe onto an ice shelf. so folks, no pictures - i was too busy panicking about how to get the bad dog out of the 40F water and back into my canoe! this was taken before the offending event while we were still relaxing on the lake and enjoying the bird serenade.

not much worse for the wear, we made it back to the cabin, had another lovely dinner with the group, more hot-tubbing, sleeping, waking to a glorious WARM morning completed by a little morning knitting.

of course.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

meet Mieze

we've got a new family member. Mieze is a 17 or 18 year old kitty from the village of Tanana on the Yukon River (where some of you might remember i used to live) who came to us this last friday under somewhat unusual circumstances.

As a result of some unfortunate immigration issues, a German national friend of mine, who's lived in Tanana for the last 20 years, is moving on to new adventures. however, his constant companion of the last 15 or 16 years, Mieze (german for kitty and pronounced Meet-zee) is too old to accompany him. So, Cob and I are lucky enough to get Mieze as the mature and wise kitty he's become.

Clearly, he's a handsome devil. and he's quite accomplished, too. I've known Mieze since 2000, when he regularly made himself comfortable in my lap while Christian and I talked long into the night over good German beer - a small oasis in the middle of Alaska. before that, Mieze logged some time in Christian's dog sled as he mushed his dogs 40 miles north of Tanana to a homestead on the Tozitna River. Mieze's been to fish camp in a boat and spent some time in a canoe with Christian. as a friend recently said, if kitties wrote their autobiographies, Mieze's would be exceptional.

but perhaps Mieze's biggest accomplishment has been taking care of Christian and being a good and loyal friend for the last 15 years. even with his feral start, Mieze quickly made his way into Christian's heart and hung with him through a lot of cold, dark winters. but Christian 's time to move on had come and he was heart-broken over having to leave Mieze behind.

Our job is to take care of Mieze as well as he took care of Christian. i think we're off to a good start.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

temporary cover

i've helped collect a lot of $$ for charity. i've washed cars, baked cookies, written checks - hell, i've even run a marathon! but a friend and colleague of mine recently did something few of us would - she shaved her head to raise $$ to fight cancer in children. the charity was St. Baldrick's and the event was March 22. and it wasn't only her - she's a volunteer fire fighter here in Fairbanks, and other fire fighters in her station joined her in baldness.
think about it - she shaved her head. shaved. her. head. and what's more, she was so psyched by the experience that she's going to do it again! the kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.

that kind of selflessness in motivating to me. though i regularly complain about my curly locks, i'm not about to shave them off and look like Sinead (unless there's the chance that i might also get her voice...). and writing a check didn't seem like quite enough in light of Nikki's monumental sacrifice. at lunch one afternoon talking about the Big Day, i realized what i could do. after all, she was leaving the next day for a NW Alaska village for some fieldwork. and while it's spring in AK, it's still cold especially for someone with an exposed scalp. so, after lunch, we headed to the yarn shop and picked out some yarn.

Nikki got a check AND a hat - temporary cover until summer. i especially like the fact that she said her new stubble acts like velcro, picking up all manner of lint and such, including little bits of pink and plum fuzz. that's gotta be a good look!

way to go, Nikki...and thank you.