A bittersweet and fitting memorial for end of summer is the fresh removal of the ancient spruce trees surrounding the Palmer Museum and Visitor Center. They were cut last week because of the insidious spruce bark beetle. They are now laid out in logs, awaiting a new life as picnic tables. These several large trees were homes to many sequential magpie families in addition to squirrels and other creatures. And these lovely trees provided shade and shelter. We already miss them.
Palmer Leafers—It’s leafing season and here is one of Palmer’s many leafing trails: it starts at Gulkana. It goes past the arboretum, past the end of the airport, through the “runway” protection area, through a nice field, into the woods between the middle school and the fire training center—which connects with the pedestrian trail along Cope Industrial Way. The trail is level and paved. In this time of leafing, there is a good selection of leaves available.
Palmer Leaf Collection—It’s a good year for leaves. They may not be as dramatic as some years, but they are plentiful and there is a good variety. The big old gold cottonwood leaves are beautiful. The small skinny firewood reds are slivers of fire. Birch are singularly lovely. The giant pushki plant leaves are major splashes but they have stickers and thorns on the stem and on their backs. Low growing bush plants have trio leaves rusty and reddish in color and look a bit like corduroy. If you’re a seasonal leaf collector, check this out. And let the aroma of autumn and the colorful leaves stimulate your senses.
Palmer Winter Prep—This is the annual Palmer Pre- Winter Chore List:
Woodcut and stack; Plant bulbs; Final mow; Garden shut-down; Button up outbuildings; Wind up hoses; Gather cute summer stuff; Harvest and put up food stores; Hunt and after hunt routine; Find snow tires; Find snow shovels; Find sandbags; Find ice scrapers; clear out garage for winter use; Dig dog graves—in advance of frozen ground (out of respect for our elderly, aging animals who might not survive the winter.) Make sure insulation is secure; furnace and chimney check; Trade out summer clothing for the winter wear, including boots, ice grips, mittens and hats; prepare car emergency gear; check door and window seals; check flashlights for battery renewal; find your little twinkly outside lights—have them handy for hanging soon. Palmer Alaskans are known for being prepared so let’s live up to our name.
Scenes and Summits—Hatcher Pass is looking gorgeous right now and of course the pass road will be open for just a few more weeks. Reflection Lake is a serene spot to go. The Glenn Highway and the Matanuska Experimental Farm have colorful and remarkable autumn landscapes. Get out there and enjoy the beautiful farewell card of Alaska Summer.
What’s Next?—Winter is coming and with it the uncertainty of predictability because of the continuing Corona virus. So many people and businesses have been impacted by this during the spring and summer. Until there are vaccines or antibodies, the uncertainty will continue. We have seen huge attempts at joy and community togetherness on so many different and varying levels this year. We’ve also seen our community split into different camps over mask wearing or not. Let’s stay gracious and respectful Palmer— and we will all get through this together.
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. Her “Palmer Buzz Community Calendar” is available at Palmer shops and museum. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222