Somedays, it’s just good to be a moose…
Tag Archives: J.O.B.
“As the days lengthen, so the cold strengthens…”
We have had a fairly mild winter so far in Alaska’s Interior. There have been a few nights in the -20F range, and little to no -30. As we pass the half way mark, my wood pile, much to the resident weasel’s delight, has well over 50% remaining.
On Saturday, the high temp barely made it to -25F, and Sunday morning it dropped down to -36F. For us, that isn’t drastic cold, but we’ve been spoiled of late, and the drop has people chattering. It also caused the phone to start to ring. Like natural disasters, cold weather brings work for the contractor. A call requesting exterior work was met with a chuckle, and the response: “Not until it warms up”. A call on Saturday night about frozen pipes required a schedule change. I don’t enjoy dealing with frozen pipes, but at least they are not my pipes.
As the forecast stands, there will not be much of a break in the cold front for a week. Next Sunday, we may near single digits below zero, and we currently don’t have positive temps on the agenda until Monday.
The blueberry season this year in the Interior wasn’t anything to write home about. They were out there, but you had to work for them and cover some serious ground doing so.
The raspberries this year have been another story. They seem to be everywhere. There are plants around my cabin that I didn’t even know about, and they are loaded with berries. Anytime I want them, I just go outside the door and fill a bowl.
The raspberry patch in the photo I have known about, but the wasp nest came as a bit of a surprise, although it probably shouldn’t have. In the same area of the “yard” last year, wasps had completely encased an old bird feeder with their nest.
This summer has not been a “bee year”, as I have not had any issues on any job sites at all. I usually get chased down the extension ladder once or twice in a normal building season, but that has not happened this year. In an actual “bee year”, that has been known to happen several times a day.
It is wise to never limit any one of your senses when hiking in Alaska.
This comic reminds me of a time I went for a walk with my dog after a miserable day at work. I was not far from town, but my mind was focused on the terrible day I had, and not on the trail.
My dog and I came around a corner, and spooked a large bull moose. It should never have happened, there was plenty of opportunity for me to spot the moose long before I did, but I wasn’t paying attention. The moose lowered his massive rack, and charged directly at me. I was within mere feet of that mighty bull, when my yellow lab charged the moose, barking up a storm. The bull turned his charge, and my dog sauntered over to a bush to lay down his scent. His job was done, disaster adverted, it was time for more important things.
The entire event lasted only seconds. The bull stood by the forest edge, giving me the stink-eye. My heart was pounding through my jacket, and my Labrador wanted to know why we were flushing moose and not grouse.
It was a lesson I never forgot. If you can’t keep your mind on the trail, stay home and burn your dinner instead.
Comic credit: Nuggets by Jamie Smith
While working on a job a while back, I suddenly was aware of the sound of running water. Almost like the sound of a fountain. Interior Alaska had a lot of snow over the winter, so there was standing water everywhere, but moving water had me curious, so I went off towards the sound.
I came to a water hole that only fills up after break up. By the end of June it would probably be dried up. But now, it was full, and in the middle of the large puddle, was a water fountain. Initially, the stream of water went up 3-4 feet above the surface of the puddle. By the time I decided to hike back to my truck to get my phone, it had dropped down to 5-6 inches. From the time I heard the water, to the time the puddle stopped percolating, was a good 90 minutes.
A pocket of methane below the service had suddenly found a way up to sunlight, and the release put on a good show. These pockets are being released all across the Arctic, and I live in a hot bed of that activity.
I spent more time in the Lower 48 than expected, and still I wasn’t able to do several things that I wanted to. Not all was lost, by any means, and I hope I made a difference on a couple of fronts. I did get a gentle warning from a very good friend; he mentioned that it is about time that I get back to my previous, selfish lifestyle. I said I would take the comment under advisement.
At any rate, after what appears to be a long breakup here in the Far North, I’m ready to attack the J.O.B. situation, and restock the coffers.
I stopped by one of my regular customers this morning, and found myself eyeball to eyeball with this little Boreal Owl. I had walked right by it, and only noticed it after I rang the door bell, and was waiting to be let in.
I’m pretty sure it’s a Boreal, and a small one at that. The Alaska DNR says that they can grow to 10″ long, with this one being in the 7-8″ range, by guestimate.
Around six inches of snow fell overnight, and the wind finally started to blow, knocking the snow off the tree limbs in small avalanches. No doubt, the little owl found the covered walkway to be well protected from the wind and falling snow.
The owl’s head would turn as I walked back and forth from my truck to the house and back again, but for the most part, it paid me only marginal interest. When I left, it was still perched on the carving that hangs on the wall.
Taking a few steps back, gives you an idea how small the owl is. Unfortunately, the only camera I had with me was my cell phone.