layla: grass at sunset (Default)

This evening we hiked up our hill in a direction we’d never been before to investigate a large and suspiciously square clearing that Orion found on Google Earth (we’ve lived here 11 years and we’re still finding new things!). We did eventually find it, though it’s so overgrown that it was very difficult to determine its age or, most of all, WHY someone cleared a bunch of trees in a large square block in the middle of nowhere, with no apparent roads going to it. Thwarted homesteader perhaps? Lost pioneers? We found some stumps that we were pretty sure were cut with an axe; if so, this area was cleared a century ago! Fairbanks’s dry climate and slow-growing trees are excellent at preserving old wood. There is, however, no sign of occupation: collapsing cabins, old vehicles, etc.

We decided, eventually, that this was probably a woodcutting area for the early-1900s gold-mining operation in the valley. In an area that’s mostly scraggly swamp spruce, this particular small ridge seems to support large birch trees, many of which are now growing in clusters as if growing up from old birch stumps. Our theory is that the turn-of-the-century miners would climb the hill to cut wood (with hand tools!) and then skid the logs down the hill to the valley where they used them for firewood or construction.


Most of the walk up to the clearing is through black spruce forest with a dense carpet of moss underneath. We came upon this fungus-encrusted fallen spruce log and I thought it was neat enough to take a picture of it.


As we wandered around the clearing, we found ourselves conducting tree-stump CSI. This looks like old axe marks to us.

More photos under the cut.

Read the rest of this entry )

Crossposted from Wordpress.  

layla: grass at sunset (Default)

We went for a walk in the sunshine today, and the cat tagged along.





Well, at least he seems to be enjoying himself.


Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

The last couple of months, I’ve been posting photos to Twitter because, well … I’m lazy and it’s easy. But, for those who don’t follow me there, or if you just missed a few, here’s a “best of” winter photo roundup.




More photos under cut )

Crossposted from Wordpress.  

layla: grass at sunset (Default)

For some the solstice is an important holiday (and may yours be lovely, if it is part of your faith!) but it tends to pass unremarked in the nonpagan world — unless you’re in the Arctic, where severe annual daylight changes make it impossible not to pay attention to the time of year when daylight hits its nadir and everything starts to get warm again.

Alaska is interesting in that regard because we belong to a larger culture that doesn’t have a tradition of noticing the solstices at all. The solstice, summer or winter, is not a thing in mainstream American culture. But this close to the Arctic Circle, it is definitely an important turning point in the year. Fairbanks has a summer solstice street fair and other events, and the winter one is marked by fireworks, which we went to last night.

My camera doesn’t take great night pictures, so I hedged my bets by resting it on my knee in lieu of a tripod and taking a lot of pictures (with the advantage that I could just enjoy the fireworks without worrying about framing shots). This of course resulted in a lot of fireworks that were mostly out of frame, but some of my pictures came out pretty neat!

Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

A week before the solstice, this is what sunrise looks like in Fairbanks … at 12:30 p.m.

And this is also as close as the sun will get to our house today. That’s actually the shadow of the hill behind our house, being cast on the hill across the valley.

The trees on top of our hill. This is a little misleading as it’s not actually the sun — it’s diffuse sunlight behind clouds. (Those are also shadowed clouds above the hill in the top picture, not a blue sky.)

Our house, which is really turning into more of a compound now that we have the shop too, all hunkered down beneath the weird wild winter sky.

Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Things look a bit different than the last time I posted pictures.

Winter is definitely here. These pictures were taken early this afternoon.

The plow is on the plow truck ... and the most sunlight we see these days is the sun in the trees at the edge of the yard. Soon we won't even have that. (We're behind a hill, so we get no direct sunlight from November to mid-February.)
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Frost-covered dead leaves on rocks.

We have been having still, cold weather for the last few days, which allowed frost to build up on everything until it almost looked like it had snowed. These pictures don't really do it justice; this wasn't morning frost, but an all-day-long frost that got deeper every morning. Anyway, I took this pictures a few days ago, and then last night it warmed up to 50 degrees, and rained all the frost off. Now there are puddles everywhere, and it's back to being brown and dreary again.

We usually would have had snow for a couple of weeks by now. What an odd year it's been.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
A few pictures from a walk in the woods behind our property this weekend.

Yellow birch leaves look like gold coins scattered on the ground.

Still quite a lot of blueberries clinging to the bushes! They're much too withered to eat (although the dog seemed to enjoy them) but I hope they'll be good for the birds this winter.

Dog eating blueberries in the swamp on the backside of our property. Silly dog.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Most of Wednesday's snow melted off. But it snowed again yesterday, and the effect is much the same -- the trees are more yellow now and less green, but it's still very striking with the golden backdrop under the snow. It's starting to look less likely that we're going to make it back to autumn before winter comes down on us full force! Here are a couple pictures I took yesterday evening on a walk out to the beaver pond near the house:

Today, it's still cold enough that nothing has really melted, but the sun is very striking on the snow and yellow leaves! This first picture was taken from the deck. The one below it is looking down at the creek that runs through our property (the stairs in the foreground are an old set of wooden stairs off the deck that now lead to the creek bank).

layla: grass at sunset (Default)
A post over on my romance-writing blog about what I've been up to this week.

In other news, it snowed this week -- on top of trees that had barely begun to change colors. Looked pretty cool, no? (This was Wednesday.)

Most of the snow has melted, but not all of it. We got another light snowfall on Friday, some of which stuck around in sheltered spots, and I noticed when I walked the dogs today that the ground was frozen anywhere that hadn't received direct sunlight today. I have a bad feeling about this.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
We're already into early fall here in the land of the Midnight Sun. It frosted a week ago, to my shock and dismay, and the utter ruin of my tomatoes and peppers -- woe!

I went out with my camera today in search of some fall colors. There isn't much to be seen yet.

Colors starting to show up along the driveway.

A couple more )
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
It's blueberry season here in Alaska, and we went berry-picking on Sunday.

Several pictures under cut )
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Things have FINALLY started to melt, and the snow is going fast! There's a wee bit of driveway flooding, though.

And my garden is not quite there yet, although you can finally see some of it.

But it's finally starting to look like spring around here!

layla: grass at sunset (Default)

Still waiting for progress to occur on the “melting” front. Walking the dog last night, I noticed the setting sun glinting rather beautifully off the snowbanks along the driveway, although by the time I ran and got my camera it had mostly set:


(This was about 10 p.m. — we have a lot of light, at least.)

And here’s a picture I took today of water pooling on the creek ice:


It’s 40 degrees today and feels wonderful. Hopefully we’ll lose this snow quickly now that it’s getting warmer.

Crossposted from Wordpress.  
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Today's cheery glimpse of spring:

The picture doesn't really give you the full effect because it didn't capture the falling snow, which was coming down pretty hard when I took it. Still, you can tell by comparing it to the one taken from the same angle a week ago that spring is not exactly proceeding forward here.

On a more genuinely cheerful note, I discovered this Croatian illustrator's gorgeous art -- definitely worth taking a look if you like lavishly detailed pen-and-ink art. The precision and shading is really incredible.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
Yay, it's Monday again! Let's see how spring is coming alo--

... oh. Oh dear.

Yeah, if anything there's more snow than there was last week, because it's been below freezing all week and now it's snowing again.

Here's a different but no less depressing part of the driveway:

And under the cut, a few nostalgic comparative looks back at Aprils when we actually had some semblance of a spring by the second Monday in the month.

*sob* )

Monday Melt

Apr. 3rd, 2013 02:18 pm
layla: grass at sunset (Default)
For the past few years, I've done a little photography project that I call Monday Melt: every Monday in April, I go around the property and take pictures, so that I can compare them to past years and see how our spring is coming along.

(And yes, I know it's not Monday, but I took these pictures on Monday; I'm just now getting around to dl'ing them from the camera!)

As you can see, we have a ways to go yet.

A couple more pictures and comparisons to past years under the cut )
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

(Actually these were taken on Dec. 30. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. *g*)

The view from my yard at noon, showing how much sunlight we get:

I can see the sun … it’s right over there! *sob*

Crossposted to Wordpress, Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Comment wherever you like.
layla: grass at sunset (Default)

Sketch Fest today! (And shortly I will be off to Ellen’s house for lunch and art!)

Here’s a poignant and thought-provoking article I ran across: Top five regrets of the dying. I think it’s worth pointing out that not all of this, or every aspect of this, is within everyone’s control. Not everyone can choose whether to work long hours or not. People with brain-chemical imbalances (which includes most of us at one point or another) can’t make themselves happy through better decision-making. And so forth. But I also think it’s worth looking at this list and thinking about how you’ll feel looking back on it in twenty years or forty. Are there things you’re not doing now that you’ll regret doing later? I remember when I was in my teens how I used to ask myself “Will this matter to me when I’m 25?” (25 being the oldest that I could imagine myself, I guess. *g*) And now I’m 36. What, of the things I’m doing now, will matter to me when I’m 50?

We had a windstorm a few days ago and a lot of the leaves fell off the trees, but before that I took a few pictures of the colors. I love this time of year — with all our aspen trees, the woods behind the house look like the ground is covered in gold coins.

Originally published at Layla's Wordpress blog. You can comment here or there.


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