The alpine tundra atop Kesugi Ridge in mid-September was ablaze in autumn red — the bearberry and blueberry bushes creating a colorful grand finale only days before winter’s white cloak would fall upon the land.
There was little wind and the sun was warm on my face Oct. 4 atop a Kenai Mountain ridge that bisected two valleys — Bear Creek on my left and Palmer Creek on my right — the latter one of the richest gold mining areas on the Kenai Peninsula from about 1895 through the 1930s.
Sir Edmund Hillary, Bradford Washburn, Fred Beckey and Yuichiro Miura. What do these people have in common? They’re all famous mountaineers. What else? They all lived (Beckey and Miura are still alive) past age 80 — primarily because of excellent physical conditioning acquired through a lifetime of rigorous physical exercise.
With a few inches of new snow above 3,000 feet, my annual autumn climb up Gunsight Mountain on Sept. 20 quickly became more of a winter climb, as I paused to take some photos of Dall sheep that browsed on grass just below the snowline. I’ve seen them at nearly the same location on other hikes and in typical fashion, they grew nervous by my presence and made a quick disappearing act into Glacier Fan Creek Canyon.
Not long ago, I wrote a short poem about a bird and emailed it to Tom Sexton, a recognized Alaskan poet. He replied with his own poem, also about a bird, that he’d written a day earlier.
When we average current male and female expected lifespans in the U.S, 78 years is roughly how long we can expect to live. That gives us 28,470 days, which on the face of it seems quite ample.
Watching the garbage truck’s mechanized arms grab and raise my fully loaded plastic garbage can off the street, hungrily ingesting its contents, I thought about a winter long ago when I was a “swamper” on the back of one of those trucks — a job that like so many jobs in today’s automated world is now obsolete.
After thatching and raking, with a glorious summer of sunshine and repeated rounds of fertilizer, lime and water, with special application of “Weed-Be-Gone” to eliminate invasive culprits, plus frequent mowing and trimming, my lawn still doesn’t look as good as some of my neighbors. But I keep trying.
They’re round and blue, juicy and rather tart — and they’re back — our blueberries that we’ve missed for more than two years!