Copper River Record
By Janelle Eklund
It was October 1. A clear blue sky and bright sun looked down on a cold crisp landscape. The 20 degree chill of the night stilled puddles and lakes in a layer of thin ice. Previous cold nights loosened the leaves on trees. When a fierce relentless wind blew for a couple days it released the leaves to their deathbed on the ground. There they will nourish the tree or bush it was born from, giving it life to continue the cycle.
My hiking companion and I donned rubber boots and warm clothes for an invigorating trek in the cool woods. Colorful leaves floated in suspended animation in frozen pockets of water where the light of the sun splashed them with golden hues. Ice shapes formed whitish wavy patterns. We moved through a well trodden icy wet four-wheeler trail anxious to meet higher dryer ground. After a couple of hours of wading through a drunken black spruce forest the aspen grove was a welcoming sight. The trail meandered through white barked stately trees, gnarly growths decorating some of their trunks. Above the trees a three-quarter moon hung in the blue sky like a genuine pearl.
Wind had released some aspen trees of their firm grip to the ground. Their trunks lay like benches on the forest floor. We took our seat on one in the sun where we basked in its light and had a bite to eat. It was the perfect setting to linger, nourish our bodies and souls, and contemplate where we were in that moment in time. The afternoon air was a little warmer on our return trek. The slightly frozen mossy tundra beneath our feet gave way just a little more as the diminished warmth of the sun tried its best to thaw the icy grip.
Fall days are lingering with nights in the 20°'s or 30°'s and days in the upper 30°'s to 40°'s. There was a slight inkling of snow with a dusting one morning in early October that vanished almost as soon as it appeared. My thoughts wandered to visions of planting something in the greenhouse - hah - not really warm enough but never the less these warm October days play with the mind! Actually, there is something green emerging from the bin - I think it's an onion! As the sun disappears earlier each day it brings the mind back to reality - very little light - very little growth. OK, too early for planting already!
Snow seems shy this year but today, October 16, we got our first real dump, even if it is heavy wet snow and part of it came down as rain. With a temperature of 32°F it can make for messy road conditions so be careful as we fall in winter - pun intended.
From my light to yours-
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.