6, 2007: Web cam may be facing west (no mountains,
"garden cam") or east (mountains obscured by
trees which have finally leafed out).
9, 2007: new leaves are becoming visible. The birdfeeding
season is definitely over and the web cam is once again
facing east, but the mountains may not be visible once
the trees leaf out. -ke
4/11/07: We're probably finished feeding the birds since
they seem to be moving on, although I did see a few red
polls picking through some seeds this afternoon. What
happened to the snow? Last weekend a wind like a hair
dryer pushed temperatures into the high 40s and simply
flushed the snow that has been around since 2006! The
grass is happily greener!!! -ke
1/28/07: Red polls and chickadees showed up mid-afternoon.
1/30/07: Red polls, chickadees, and nuthatch, mid-afternoon.
2/3/07: Red polls, chickadees, Hairy Woodpecker
Mt McKinley (July
27, 2006): Mt McKinley (Denali) viewed from pull-off just
outside of Talkeetna through holes in the clouds. Summit Lake
just west of Hatcher Pass.
Junco (7/25/06): The junco families "owned" the woods this
afternoon. Juvenile junco, note the white stripes on its tail.
Lazy (7/23/06): Feeling strong? If you aren't a mountain runner
who thrives on long, steep climbs and bone-jarring descents, try
climbing Lazy Mountain, maybe... Trail to the summit... View of
Matanuska Peak and ridgeline... Matanuska River in foreground.
Cook Inlet's "Knik Arm" in distance. Also visible near the river
is the historic farm area along the "Springer system" (the Outer
Springer Loop Rd and Inner Springer Loop Rd) and the Palmer Golf
Peak Rim hike (July 22, 2006): Looking south from Hatch Peak
Rim towards Matanuska Valley. Knik and Matanuska Rivers and Pioneer
Peak in distance... Wildflowers--Saxifrage Saxifraga
bronchialis, Pixie Eye primrose, Primula cuneifolia,
Spring Beauty, Claytonia sarmentosa (photos).
update (july 22, 2006): My flower garden borders between tame
and wild, with an edge to perennials that are hardy and durable...
Perennials lychnis, columbine, and delphinium, the shorter hedges
are contoneaster, the taller bushy hedge that needs more radical
pruning is caragana (also called Siberian Pea)... Monkshood (Aconitum),
hardy and grows easily from seed. Honeysuckle... Hardy Norland
apples grafted on Siberian crabapple rootstock. Chinese golden
apple, grafted on Siberian crabapple rootstock... (photos)
in the Anchorage Daily News!: Out in the Valley, Kathryn Eberhart's
combination blog and Web site eschews gardening tips for "just
kind of experiencing Alaska," with lots of photos and a webcam...
and eating worms (7/17/06): A clump of large birch trees that
hold a kid-built tree house from years ago exuded bird talk as
parents fed their chick... two bird families inhabiting the birch
clump and surroundings: junco and white crowned sparrow... robin
catching a worm... (photos)
Lake (7/16/06): Hiking to Pinnacle Lake is not exactly for
the faint of heart. We parked at Independence Mine and started
towards Gold Cord Lake but then climbed the headwall to the left.
Except for about a hundred yards of visible foot steps stomped
into the hill, there is no trail... (photos)
anything but Lazy (7/11/06): Lazy Mountain is an "anything
but Lazy" climb... The lower part of the "Lazy" climb goes through
several different plant communities including a grasslands of
6+ foot tall grass, fireweed, and cow parsnip with slightly shorter
stinging nettles dangling over the trail. You climb through bits
of forest--cottonwood on the lower slopes, birch higher up...
ice, blue ice, glacier ice (July 10, 2006): Travel to the
source of the Matanuska River from Palmer takes a car, some patience
(to get through the road construction), and money... The Matanuska
Glacier is a lesson in ice, black ice, blue ice, clear dense ice,
ice covered with rocks, ice with little bubbles, rapidly melting
ice, deeply crevassed ice, rippled shiny melting ice, clean ice,
dirty ice, fissured ice, slippery ice, wish I had crampons ice,
booming talking ice... (photos)
Gold Cord Lake (7/9/2006):
Gold Cord Lake is a popular and, except for a short steep climb,
easy-to-access destination in the Independence Bowl (Talkeetna
Mountains). It was (and usually is) a crowded destination. Gold
Cord Lake trail--up the headwall. Not exactly Mt Fuji, but hikers
remind me of a sprinkling of confetti... (photos)
(July 6, 2006): The weather forecasters finally got the rain
they've been predicting for a couple days... which turns the garden
into a kind of supersaturated, mystical environment of intense
colors and giant water droplets, absent shadows... (photos)
walking at Hatch Peak (July 5, 2006): Cloud walking, exercise
or art? In this case probably safer than cloud driving or cloud
flying... We drove to the summit of Hatcher Pass then hiked to
Hatch Peak and as you can see from these photos the clouds continued
to scuttle around us... (photos)
cosmos (June 30, 2006): Moth on strawberry leaf after rain.
No camouflage. Probably only a matter of time until a bird spots
this silly moth. Cosmos (an annual) after rain. (photos)
clouds (6/25/2006): The sky over the garden definitely qualifies
as part of the gardening topic. About the time I launched into
the weeding project--extracting grass, dandelions, clover and
equisetum from among the perennials--I noticed the thunderheads
towering high in the sky only slightly to the southwest... (photo)
Spiders on Bergenia (June 25, 2006): This stopped me in my
tracks... caused me to backtrack, get my camera, and post these.
Last year I saw the spiders in the woods. This year they're right
there in the garden... (photos)
June 24, 2006: The best part of Alaska is summer for a week
or two on either side of Solstice. Days are deliciously long and
especially enjoyable when it isn't raining. This afternoon the
clouds vanished, showing up the weather forecasters who had forecast
rain through the weekend... (photos)
20, 2006): Looking at these photos taken on an overcast evening
reminds me of all the stories in the woods. In the foreground
is the trunk and lower branches of a black spruce, dead now, that
succombed to the spruce bark beetle infestation about 10 years
garden (June 20, 2006):
Day lilies and iris, dependable flowers even after cold, windy
winters without much snow cover. Close up of day lily which cycles
through several blossoms...(photos)
June 17, 2006: Sky over garden at 10PM June 17. We're only
a few days from the solstice. Garden. Remay cloth covers onions...
apple trees: May 29, 2006. The ladder is holding up a bouquet
of crabapple blossoms to pollinate the Chinese golden apple tree
that is espaliered up the house...
Matanuska River (Feb.
18. 2006): By mid February we start to notice longer days
and that the sun 'has heat in it.' A break between fronts let
sunshine splay across the wide Matanuska River plain Saturday
afternoon. We hiked to the 'mini butte' a forested protuberance
among the braids of the Matanuska River...
Valley - October 14, 2005 - No skiing yet: A day for
bicycling, not skiing. Some years there is skiing in October...
well there are a couple more weeks in October... I had Archangel
Road to myself this afternoon. Other travelers had traversed the
road earlier in the day, leaving their tracks in the light snow.
A car or truck drove in about a half mile, turned around and returned
to the pavement. Funny because he was almost through the worst
of the potholes... odd view looking south along Archangel Rd.
Still a bit of green along the edges...
Gold Mint Trail Snapshot
(10/6/05): Gini and I hiked about half an hour up Gold
Mint Trail this evening. The weather was warm, no wind, and the
hiking was easy although there were minor sections of mud and
water on the trail. We stopped at the beaver pond where the trail
comes out of the alders and the view opens up. The snow is light
and high. No skiing yet...
Flowers (10/3/2005): Remember, this is Alaska. We have
flowers blooming on October 3, 2005. We had one light frost in
early September that only hit the lowest garden and a very very
light frost last night. The forecast low for tonight is 30 degrees
F. This is very unusual. These photos are from this afternoon...
(9/26/05): Gradually the leaves are being stripped off
trees, by the wind and rain. Cottonwoods still holding onto some
leaves. Cirrus clouds moving through, between storms, apparently.
The texture of fall. Sun diamonds behind fireweed stalks, between
gusts of wind...
(9/24/05): If I'd driven further I could have gotten
a closer photo but... with gas at between $2.69 and $2.79 it didn't
seem worth it. When the clouds over the Talkeetnas lifted I saw
the snow line was easily below 16 mile, and maybe nearly as low
as the Mother Lode. Glad I nailed that bike ride up Archangel
and hiked Hatch Peak Rim last week...
Lazy Mountain (9/20/05): Lazy
Mountain - Chugach Range, Matanuska Valley, Alaska So, want a
work out? Climb Lazy. Depending on what king of shape you're in
it can range from 45 minutes of brutal uphill climb to 1 hour
and 50 minutes (or even more...).
Valley (9/19/2005): The strange weather continues. By
all rights there really should be snow at least on the tops of
the Talkeetna Mountains. Within the next week or so, in a normal
year, there would be enough snow that the gate allowing access
to over the top of the Pass (Hatcher Pass) will be closed and
I probably wouldn't have thought about riding my bicycle up to
about the 4,000 foot level in Archangel Valley...
The Pinnacle (9/18/05): The
Pinnacle is the highest peak above Independence Bowl (in the Talkeetna
Mountains, of course). I hiked the Hatch Peak Rim and the fog
was blowing up the mountains from the south, creating a rapidly
changing atmosphere, an overlay to the alpine textures of Autumn
plastered across the slopes. Pinnacle and Autumn colors in fog.
Mt McKinley (9/18/05): Listened
to Danny Schmidt play his acoustic folk music in Talkeetna last
night. If you haven't heard of Whole Wheat Radio, check it out
(you don't even have to be in Alaska to listen). Leaving Talkeetna
this morning we saw Mt McKinley in the rear view mirror and felt
lucky since it has been cloudy and raining.
woods (9/16/05): Leaves
turned yellow, suddenly, overnight. Even though it's the middle
of September there hasn't been much of a frost yet, barely cold
enough to freeze the cucumbers and some outdoor tomatoes. The
birch and cottonwoods seem to be sensitive to day length as much
as temperature so they are shutting down for the year. A wild
frenzy of Autumn color throughout the forest.
View (8/11/05): The summer of 2005 will probably also
be remembered as a 'smoky' summer. In July smoke from Kenai Peninsula
forest fires filled the Matanuska Valley, at times so thick a
'smoky' odor filled the air. Now the smoke is said to be from
fires in the Interior. As you can see from this photo taken from
Hatch Peak in the Talkeetna Mountains, the air quality in the
Valley is bad and the views are quite impaired.
Woods Walk Update (7/31/05): The
summer of 2005 will be remembered as unusual--an unusually early
and warm spring, an unheardof number of electrical storms lasting
from May through late July, and warmer than usual days. On my
walk through the woods July 31st I saw plants that seemed like
they were at a mid-August growth stage rather than a mere end-of-July
stage. The frequent rains and warmth had been a boon to fungal
growth and insects have continued to chomp and gnaw their way
through various plants. I saw fungi that were either only vaguely
familiar or totally unfamiliar to me. I don't know what they're
called, thus the images are labeled as 'unidentified.'
In the woods you might
see the most amazing things, like a ball of baby spiders... (6/27/05):
In the past week a number of new flowers have emerged, these include
Pink Wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia), Twin Flower (Linnaea borealis)
and Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum). Larkspur, Monkshood, Fireweed
and Wild Celery will probably bloom within the next week or so.
Baneberry (Actaea rubra) which is highly poisnonous, is developing
berries which have become habitat for some sort of mottled caterpillar...
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
(6/15/05): Butterflies, Swallowtails. I don't know whether
this has anything to do with Polar Warming, but for the last few
days we have been inundated by these large, palm sized, yellow
and black butterflies. The timing corresponds precisely with the
blooming of the Lilac.
after the rain (6/11/05): Yesterday
about noon a few innocent looking puffy clouds floated in front
of the Talkeetna Mountains in an otherwise clear blue sky. A few
hours later a front moved through, the sky became like slate unleashing
a heavy, steady rain which continued through the night and into
this morning. Being Saturdy, June 11, it's the start of the Colony
Days celebration in Palmer which includes a parade. Amazingly,
and right on cue, the rain stopped and the sun came out. What
a day for a parade. I digress, though. In the woods, after the
rain, water droplets glisten like an ephermeral rounded diamond
(if there could be such a thing), lined up neatly across the ferns
and along the veins of the Watermelon berry leaves. The weight
of the water pushed the equisetum, which have developed into a
mass of long stringy 'leaves', across the trail so that walking
was like walking through water. And insects were gradually coming
out of whatever places they go during a prolonged rain (except
of course the mosquitoes which seem to appear immediately, the
very instant the rain stops).
woods brief (6/9/05): The
character of the forest is going through its early summer transformation.
Tiny plants remain in a few select locations but the large plants
are growing rapidly, demanding that they be noticed. Fireweed
is pushing through the 3 foot mark and cow parsnips are easily
at 4 feet and developing thick, furry buds. Wild roses, three
to four feet high, cluster along several sections of trail, giving
the woods the appearance of a garden. Insects are moving through
their life cycle--I saw the first spiders with egg sacks that
I've seen this year...
Wild Geranium (6/8/05): Blooms
have opened on the first few wild geraniums inside the woods.
Did I mention the mosquitoes?
After the lightening
strike: It's now several days after the lightening strike.
We've been troubleshooting phone lines, Internet and antenna connections
and are starting to get things working. As we pieced the evidence
together Friday night, with no power and no (land line) telephones
we saw that the wire holding the (empty) bird feeders between
two birch trees was broken.
mostly bugs (5/28/05): Yesterday
the woods offered respite from the gusty breezes and dust-laden
air, where mosquitoes swarmed fiercely and many other insects
went about their business. I'll spare you the photo of the aphid
encrusted rosebud and I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of a
butterfly but here are the rest of them.
Woodland plants: I've
added a plant key to the woodland plant photographs in the May
26th post: The exercise of leaves and thinking about forest themes.
(May 26, 2005)
The exercise of leaves
and thinking about forest themes: Stand back and look
at the forest as if peering through a wide angle lens. It is shades
of green, blended together. Step in and look closely and it is
many shades of green, many shapes and textures, heights and growth
habits, territories and preferences. (May 25, 2005)
insects and caterpillars
(5/23/05): Things interest me about the natural environment
and the woods: the ecosystem and the structure of things, from
a functional as well as aesthetic standpoint. The Watermelonberry,
for instance, grows oddly, unfolding more like a fern than a plant.
Its stems look like pipes, which in fact they are in a way since
water and nutrients travel through the stems to the rest of the
plant. And the leaves are built on parallel lines rather than
a network of veins.
New perennials blooming
(5/21/05): Trollius (began blooming May 19th in 2005).
Photo of Trollius with Cranesbill taken in 2001. Shooting Star
(began blooming May 20th in 2005). In 2001 the shooting star began
blooming June 1st.
Lichens after the Rain
(5/21/05): Rain, dense and soaking, started last night
and lasted through this afternoon. The rain is good for the land
which is dry after so many warm, sunny days. The rain also exacerbated
the mosquito situation - I remembered the bug spray and it didn't
help much. Blood thirsty whining insects attacked any exposed
skin. Stepping into the moisture filled woods after a rain and,
even though the temperature is only in the 50's (F), there's a
humid freshness that suggests the idea of lingering and enjoying
the quietness of the forest, except for the humming hordes of
mosquitoes and the need to keep moving and whacking them before
Some light at midnight (sun
time) on May 20: Depending on the resolution of your
monitor you may see a tiny bit of paler sky near the top left
of this image. (Remember we're two hours off sun time so 1:58
AM is the same as 2 minutes to midnight, sun time.) The web cam
is capturing the 2:00 AM (midnight 'sun time') image each night
so take a look at it now in the web cam archive.
More notes from the
forest (5/20/05): Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum edule)
is an understated shrub that grows in the forest understory. It's
a lanky bush about 30 inches high with dark green lobed leaves
with serrated edges and very tiny, understated flowers. However,
when magnified the flowers actually start as small pink tinged
ball-shaped blossoms, opening into a cluster of tiny bright white
blooms. I spotted the first Highbush cranberry blooms two days
Spiders, a Caterpillar
and a Hummingbird moth (5/19/05): Mid-afternoon, warm
and sunny, near Palmer, Alaska, May 19, 2005. Sunny warmth and
energetic insects pervaded the late afternoon forest. As I walked
and photographed, I had to keep swatting at mosquitoes, part of
a small, fast and hungry new hatching.
Woods walk, 5/18/05: Plants
that have progressed to blooming are the Highbush Cranberry, Mertensia
(also called Chiming Bells), Starflower (Trientalis borealis),
and Baneberry (Actaea rubra). The Starflower (Trientalis
borealis) is very tiny, only a few inches high. Each plant
has one elegant white flower and forms part of the complexity
of the low growing plant community on the forest floor.
Mixing Weather and Thunderheads
(5/17/05): This morning it was overcast and cold but
by mid-day a chill breeze blew beneath a partially clear sky.
Ominous dark thunderheads piled up along the mountains and miniature
'baby' cumulus clouds floated across the valley. The forests and
open land (vegetated open land, not gravel pits or pre-subdivision
cleared land) retain heat and are becoming darker green, the color
The primrose is hardy and durable. This one spent three years
in a pot, one year it wintered in the garage and the rest outdoors,
before I transplanted it into the ground. It's a small plant but
blooms early, in fact it's blooming at the same time as the tulips
Afternoon May 15, 2005: Today
is cool and overcast with intermittent mist, temperature in the
low 50's. The mosquitoes are still big and slow...
The Wood Violet (Viola renifolia) bloomed second, after the Fairy
Slippers. It is so tiny and low growing, barely 3 inches high,
that it's hard to identify as any more than white specks without
putting your face down at trail level...
Chinese Golden apple
blooming (5/14/05): Few apple trees are hardy in this
microclimate, but the Chinese Golden is one of them. This tree,
at the far left edge of the usual web cam image (I moved the camera
a little to get this picture), grows against a south facing wall....
Forest May 13, 2005: Winnie
the Pooh had the hundred acre wood. I have a four acre wood as
well as access to several public 'woods' which may be every bit
as fascinating as Pooh's wood, if you look closely and have a
Bergenia and Bumblebee
(5-11-05): Very slow moving bumblebee, probably a queen,
feeding on bright pink Bergenia flowers. [The wikipedia bumblebee
page is very informative.]
Woods May 11, 2005: Bits
and pieces: today's forest photos are the fern, a web and a stink
bug. Notice the curl at the end of the emerging fern frond which
mirrors the arc of the stem, also the first leaves are perfectly
formed and will replicate down the length of the frond. The stink
bug has a metallic looking shell with a geometric pattern. Anyone
have any idea what this web is all about? It appears that there's
an insect trapped (wrapped?) in what seems to be an excessive
amount of silk, and there was only a very tiny spider near the
bottom of the web. I will check on it tomorrow and see if anything
Sunset at 10:30PM May 10th:
*** Remember the weird thing is that we're two hours off sun time
-- the darkest hour of the night is closer to 2:00 AM than to
midnight *** compare to May 7th web cam '' web cam history ''
current web cam 11 MAY 2005...........SUNRISE 523 AM SUNSET 1032
PM AMOUNT OF DAYLIGHT TODAY (HOUR:MIN)........17:09 GAIN/LOSS
SINCE YESTERDAY (HOUR:MIN:SEC)....+0:05:15 [source: National Weather
Garden - May 9, 2005: These
flowers are currently blooming in our garden. Forget-me-not (Myosotis)
is the Alaska state flower. This year it started blooming about
May 8th. It reseeds readily and the seedlings can be transplanted
to better locations, if necessary. Other forget-me-nots. Buds
are coming out on the False Solomon's Seal. These spread by underground
roots and grow well in the shade. False Solomon's Seal is sometimes
confused with Lily of the Valley. Arabis is a low growing rock
garden type plant. It spreads easily, seems to be short lived,
and needs trimming to keep it looking neat after it's finished
blooming. However, being an early bloomer in this cold climate
makes up for any other negatives. (In 2001 the Arabis bloomed
on May 19.)
Woods Update May 10,
2005: The fern continues to unroll itself. This looks
like a cottonwood catkin. It's about 3 times life size. The unusual
thing is that I discovered it dangling from a wild rose stem in
the forest, not near the edge of the forest. I looked up and around
at all the trees, all were birch trees, no cottonwoods nearby.
However, we get hellacious winds here so it's conceivable that
this catkin could have traveled some distance. Anyway, there are
several interesting things about it -- what appear to be seeds
are purple, there are flat plate like structures with threads
dangling off them that the seeds are attached to, and all of it
seems to be attached in a spiral pattern. I've seen numerous instances
of the alien looking 'plates' stuck in spider webs and found myself
wondering what kind of carcass it could possibly be.
Afternoon Walk, May
9, 2005: Walking through the forest is really like being
inside a large living organism., especially in Spring. It is a
busy, buzzing place. (Actually no mosquitos this afternoon.) Growing
plants clearly have some powerful physics...
Day length at latitude 61.65
(Palmer, Alaska): Rapid day length increases continue!
Still light in sky at 11 PM on May 8th. For a peak at how the
day length looks at latitude 61 (Palmer) in Alaska on the solstice,
check out our summer solstice archive from 2001. For more general
information, see Wikipedia summer solstice listing.
Longer Days (web cam view):
With nearly 17 hours of sunlight there's still plenty of light
for outdoor activities at 10:30 PM on May 7th (compare to April
29,2005). And there's light in sky at 4:27AM on May 8, 2005, Mother's
Day (compare to May 2, 2005). SUNRISE AND SUNSET 8 MAY 2005............SUNRISE
531 AM SUNSET 1025 PM [source: National Weather Service]
McKinley dominates the horizon north of Talkeetna. Photo of Mt
McKinley taken about 9PM May 6, 2005 as clouds are lifting.
Fairy Slipper orchid
blooming: Fairy Slipper, Calypso bulbosa, an orchid
that is found wild in the Matanuska Valley, blooming May 6, 2005.
See bloom image from 1999
Hedge Pruning (5-6-05): ARTHUR:
Well, what is it you want? HEAD KNIGHT: We want... a shrubbery!
From: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when they meet Knights
Who Say... Ni! Clearly the Knights Who Say ... Ni! didn't have
a Caragana hedge! One of the garden battles is controlling the
Caragana hedge that we planted in 1984 with the intention of creating
a clear separation between the driveway and the lawn. (This hedge
usually is visible at the left side of the web cam image.)
Northern Forest - Early
Spring (5-4-05): The progression of spring through the
forest is, thankfully, predictable. Today, May 4th, it still qualifies
as early spring. Although from a distance the forest appears green,
inside the light and ambiance is somewhere between the decay of
autumn, winter's skeletal bareness and the overarching blanketing
foliage of summer...
Green Foliage View (5-3-05):
As a point of reference, here is an image taken at 5PM this afternoon,
May 3rd, showing the same view as the web cam but with the better
quality of a digital SLR camera (Olympus E-10).
Today's Blooms (5/3/05):
Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla) May 3rd is pretty early for blooms
in our garden. Even though the elevation is only about 450 feet,
we're close to the south slopes of the Talkeetna Mountains, some
might say the start of the 'foothills.' Flowers bloom here later
than just a few miles south of Palmer, where the elevation is
lower and the micro-climate is moderated by a number of lakes
and Cook Inlet...
longer days (daylight hours
that is) on the way (4-27-05): Even in Alaska we're stuck
with the 24 hour day but daylight is increasing fast as we head
towards solstice. Check the difference between the light in the
sky yesterday and today (and today's pic was even taken 3 minutes
later). (To compare this pic to last night's see the web cam thread
or just scroll down if you're already there.)
april 23 2005: Another
gray day but at least it's warm. About 43 degrees F and it rained
in the night... high winds from yesterday died down, probably
about when the rain started. A few days like this and we should
start seeing some green. (There are only a couple stubborn strips
of dirty snow drift remanants remaining.) -ke