The Palmer Turnoff is history. You remember the kinda-subtle intersection which allowed you to slowly drift off the Glenn Highway and enter Palmer from the south. It was the soft entrance, practically sneaky. You could enter town by the Key Bank Plaza and go straight up Main Street and check out the bar scene and what was happening at the Palmer Train Depot. It wasn’t really an intersection…it was more of a sweet, soft lean as you were slowing down. And it was a gentle welcome to Palmer. Well, it’s gone. Some wise folks suggest a “goodbye” gathering for the Palmer “Y”.
We will now have a far more formal intersection, complete with lights and rigid right angles. And it won’t be the only new intersection in town. There are several new traffic signals for exiting and entering the Glenn Highway. It is all part of the robust Glenn Highway rebuild which we are watching every day, all summer long. There have been some complaints of course but reconstruction and development come with a price tag, which is more than money. It may have been hard being rerouted and waiting in traffic but improvements are mostly healthy for a safe community.
Best Show in Town for a 3 Year Old—The little people, in the back seats, have had a fascinating construction circus to watch all summer. Big trucks. Bulldozers. Graders. Front end loaders. Side Dumpers. Earth movers. Giant scrapers. So many kids have watched in awe as the landscape was refigured. Many a small child has waited and waited to see the next step. It has been their favorite spot in Palmer, the back seat of a car, for months. The flaggers have put on a good show as well. They have been direct, clear and good spirited. Sometimes they have even been humorous. We have been lucky to have this kind of camaraderie in Palmer during the construction season.
Abundance Time—Zucchini, fish, and berries. They are everywhere. We are so grateful for all of it. This is the joy of living in Alaska where real food is part of our landscape.
July is Done—We were cooked. We bloomed. We flooded. We swam. We hid away in the basement with our fans. And now we are putting on light sweaters. It was a great time. Our gardens and vegetation are the result of the cloud bursts and the heat waves. Our yards look especially ratty right now because of the chaotic weather. Our August blooms have long since burst. It will be interesting to see the horticulture exhibits at the Alaska State Fair, because of this abnormal year.
Berry Brain in Palmer—Berry brain has consumed many. Once a picker, always a picker and Palmer berry pickers can’t stop. It’s nearly an obsession. But there still is that remarkable “berry code.” Leave the lowest ones for the children. Always share your bounty. Never pick all the berries. Let the elders get the easiest ones.
Favorite spots are recognizable but are often referred to as “secret spots.” Hatcher Pass and Sheep Mountain are the top destinations.
The list of berries is long. Cloud berries, Golden Raspberries, Salmonberries, teeny tiny moss-berries, unripe sour bog cranberries, lingonberries, big blueberries, red currants, watermelon berries, and black currants. The berries are made into jellies and jams and scones and pie. Some are just frozen in wait for the cold times. Watermelon berries. Raspberries. Strawberries. It’s important to know what you’re picking. Consider buying a berry book as the most informative guide. There are also three good apps—plantsnap, inaturalist and picturethis. Never, never eat berries you don’t know.
Laying Down—Tall grasses are already laying down, as if it is fall. The vegetation is not bitten by frost but instead struggles with their top heavy bustles. It’s as if we were walking into September instead of August.
Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff on the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org