We have a lot of snow, especially in the hilly and mountain areas surrounding Palmer. A cross-section of that snow shows the many compressed layers of sequential snow falls. A March major snowstorm dumped over a foot easily in some parts of the Palmer area.
The Hidden Life under the Snow—These piles of snow look so serene. But there is more and more life underneath the snow. The snow is starting to change its composition, allowing more light and more melt to get in. There are bugs, shrews, voles, and bunnies hiding out in the land under the snow. Exposed tree roots are juicing up along with unveiled organics. Furry grayish fungus is showing up as snow mold. And teeny insects are seen slightly moving in top layers. Much of our snow will have to go through another one hundred freezes and thaws before it finally is dissipated but in the meanwhile we will be able to see some spring revelations.
Treasures Will Be Revealed—As the snow melt starts, a variety of items will begin to show up. Your neighbor’s garbage can lid might be one of the first sightings. A lost glove or a wayward dog-toy may be uncovered. In some wild areas an animal carcass might be revealed. Animal droppings, trash, tossed masks, dead grasses, mashed leaves, rotten remains and human litter will be unearthed. Eventual sidewalks or footpaths will be exposed as the heat of the sun works its’ magic on the snow.
Other Signs of Palmer Spring— There have been recent Palmer pronouncements of pussy willows buds in bloom on Inner Springer and at Eklutna Tailrace. Another announcement was of the swans arrival and return to Hunter Creek on Sunday. The snow bird buntings have arrived at the airport. We are seeing the patching of potholes and some sand and gravel removal. Road washing, along with official break up will happen in April. Some of the enormous snow piles are starting to pack down but they are far from vanishing. The rivers are still iced but there are spots of free water now. Harvesters and gatherers are out collecting the earliest offerings from the woods. Bird courting season is upon us, with all sorts of noises, flurry and drama. On the Palmer area farms there are new baby lambs, birthings and calving. Chickens are laying substantially more eggs. Confirmation of spring shows up with the recent moth hatches and appearances of black flies. Puddles are on the increase along with ice chunks demanding to be smashed. Trees are not swelling yet and nor do we have birch sap or spruce tips yet—but they are only a little over a month away.
Hope in the Aisles—Seeing all the seed racks at the grocery stores is a joyful reminder of good things to come. Greenhouses are very busy right now with all the careful seed tenders and plant growers making magic.
Hungry Moose Around Palmer—Moose are plentiful and pitiful this time of year. They look as if they are in a collective trance. It’s the season of the hungry moose. But don’t feed them. A human-fed moose is a moose with no boundaries. And a moose with no boundaries is a moose with no future.
Waking Up Grumpy—Hibernation time is coming to a close. Bats, bears, bumblebees, hoary marmots, and frogs all have some level of hibernation. It’s almost wake up time and they will be slowish and hungry.
Major Equinox Northern Light Show—Friday Night Lights took on a whole new meaning last week. There was an exuberant and long-lasting aurora show of sky lights that rivaled the best. It was all over the Palmer area and especially magnificent to towards Hatcher Pass and the Talkeetna mountains.
Have a good week, be safe and keep washing your hands!
Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff in the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz Column in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group.. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222