By Janelle Eklund
It feels so great to have the sun linger in the sky for increasing minutes each day. Even though the temperatures are still a bit cold I don't care what anyone says - spring is in the air! I am writing this on March 27, and walking down the road today it was obvious the sun was having a contest with the cold air that bit into my lungs. Even though the temperature was barely hitting 20° I actually saw a puddle of water where the sun was making its mark. The contest didn't last too long as the sun dipped toward the horizon and the breath of winter laughed and blew ice back to the puddle, winning this contest! But even as the icy breath of winter lingers, the warmth of the sun chips away at winters grip on south facing slopes. Before we know it the first flowers of spring will be popping up and making their debut despite lingering snow patches. Keep your eye out on these south facing slopes for the inevitable explosion of the wild crocus, also known as pasqueflower, spreading its purple-blue hue across the patchwork landscape. This delicate harbinger of spring begins blossoming its cheery face close to the ground on dry, sandy or gravelly soils, south facing bluffs and steep slopes. The Tonsina bluff is a likely spot to see springs first symphony of crocus hues. The stems, leaves, and petals are hairy, making me think those hairs help keep the plant warm during the cold transition of winter into spring. I have often seen this plant stubbornly growing through lingering snow patches.
The crocus is poisonous and irritating to the skin so enjoy it where it makes its home, take a photo of it, or capture its beauty in a sketch book. The crocus blooms make a short debut with its cheery purple face and yellow nose and then moves on to give other plants a chance to show off. As the crocus continues its life the stem and lacy leaves grow tall, the pretty purple head gradually transforms into a fluffy tan colored seed ball, and by the time it completes its cycle it is pretty unrecognizable. There were times later in the summer when I wondered what in the heck is that tall dried up plant? It's kind of like, as I grow older I'm starting not to recognize my own face in the mirror - hah! We just need to keep in touch and see the beauty in every stage of life.
So on one of these sunny "spring" days take a walk and enjoy the first splashes of colorful crocuses singing praise for the coming of spring and new life. And as spring turns into summer follow its growth into old age, and give thanks for its grace and beauty.
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.