Here comes the sun!


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The first day of spring conjures up specific thoughts for me. Crocus and tulip blossoms. Rain, lots and lots of rain. Everything being green and damp. A farewell to temperatures below freezing. Time for planting and playing in the garden. Alaska very much challenges that definition of spring. Snow covers my yard, keeping spring flowers in hibernation and keeping me from my garden. The world seems white and blue with the snow abounding and crisp, clear, blue skies overhead. And the temperature is still falling below freezing daily. However, the calendar says that today is a spring day. So what does spring in Alaska mean?

First and foremost, when I think of spring in Alaska, I think of being able to see the road for the first time in a long time. By this time most roads have been scraped free of ice and snow. Gone are the days of winter driving and assuming that the person who drove the road before and left tire tracks to follow knew where the lanes ought to be. In spring you can see the lane markings on the road. Well, in most places that is. There are some roads, like Gambell, where the markings wore away over the winter. Now you don’t even have the tracks in the snow to follow, making guessing where your lane actually is fun. For the most part though, for the first time in months you can know for sure that your car is where it is supposed to be. I remember my first spring here. I arrived in January, so my introduction to Alaska driving was on snow covered roads. I remember driving through an intersection one spring day and discovering that the turn lane I had been using was actually painted as if no one was supposed to be driving there. I was also amazed to see how traffic was supposed to flow at the Old Glenn/Artillery Rd. exit off the Glenn Highway.

Spring in Alaska means that the roads aren’t the only things becoming uncovered by the snow. As the snow along the roadsides recedes it begins to show what it has been hiding all winter. Plies of gravel and trash. The gravel turns to dust and even begins to color all the cars a lovely shade that blends in with the road. The trash just makes me sad. We live in such a beautiful state, why people would mar that with liter I don’t know.

Spring also means that the sun is back. It again reigns high in the sky. Mornings don’t seem as dreary with its presence. Evenings don’t seem quite as late with only one star in the sky.

There is one thing spring in Alaska has in common with the other states I’ve lived in: the emergence of animals. I awaken to hear the cheery chirping of birds. Signs of life abound in my yard, even if plant life is still sleeping. Even the people are coming out again, running and walking their dogs.

So I will enjoy the birds and the last of the snow and know that a typical spring of green and growing are only about a month away.

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