By Janelle Eklund
April 13 and the snowshoe trail was still solid for the early morning run, despite around forty degree temps the day before. Even slightly freezing nights kept the snow in check. I thought I would be able to squeeze maybe another week out of the trail but shortly after that the days scooted on up to fifty degrees and night time temps either above freezing or close to. The trail becomes limp and liquidy. So as I hang up my snowshoes for another season I look forward to green things popping through left over bits of snow.
Even on chilly days the warmth of the sun melts those un-shady places and shines its luxury on the body. Pussy willows are busting at the seams in response to the sun. Balsam poplar buds are plumping themselves out, ready to burst when the time is just right. About a month ago on a sunny day when the temperature was freezing, but not so bad as to freeze my fingers, the balsam poplar trees shared their buds with me. A jar of Balm of Gilead has been brewing since then and is just about ready to be strained and receive a little bees wax to make the salve.
A death march has ensued upon the glistening white of winter. Rotten snow creates water pockets of lakes, some large and some small. Slick ice transforms to slush and we are able to shed boot cleats to keep from falling. Some south facing slopes are already bear of the white stuff.
I suspect very soon the first crocus will be showing their pretty purple heads. Spruce trees will start the growth of new tender green tips. I still have some dried ones from last year I put in my tea each morning. Fireweed shoots are squirming in their slowly warming beds and will soon wake to the warmth of a new season. Now I'm dreaming of a succulent fresh salad from the re-born earth.
Along with the dream of wild plants, garden plants are also coming out of the dream state and are a reality. The light table in the basement is full of seedlings. Some of them are squirming to get out of the little cells they were born in and find a bigger home. I'll have to find time this weekend to help them move.
As the earth awakens so do the senses. The wonderful scent of balsam poplar buds lingers on the thin gloves I used while picking. Soon this sweet deliciousness will marry with soil aromas, envelope the air, and make one swoon.
It's a time of transition, a time of re-awakening, a time to celebrate new life.
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.