Experiencing Alaska Month by Month
Updated: April 5, 2004
The current TIME and TEMPERATURE in Fairbanks is:
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2003 Susan L. Stevenson - All photos are copyright protected

September 2, 2003

Sun Rise: 6:31am
Sun Set: 9:09pm

Weather today:
Light rain early...then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. High around 55F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Cloudy with occasional rain showers. Low near 45F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

September already. Hard to believe we are midway through our third month as Alaska residents. There are moments when I can still vividly remember sitting in my apartment in Florida, watching people splash in the pool below our balcony, enjoying a mid-afternoon thunderstorm, photographing glorious sunrises and sunsets. And then there are other moments when I feel like those days were a lifetime ago.

Do I miss Florida? Sometimes. I miss the fact that I was much closer to friends and family - geographically speaking. I miss attending school and learning new things. I miss Carrabbas (our favorite restaurant) and their crisp green salads with parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top. I miss watching the sun come up over Jacksonville Beach early on a summer day. I miss bike riding on the Baldwin Trail. But this doesn't mean I'm not happy here.

Unless you have ever lived in Alaska, it is difficult for me to express the natural beauty of this state. The awesome expanse of hills which roll out in every direction around Fairbanks, growing taller until they become massive snow-covered peaks. It is difficult to describe the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of rivers and streams that crisscross this huge expanse of land. Some no wider than a puddle, hidden beneath tall grasses. Others roaring by as they tumble over rocks and boulders; fast moving and teeming with fish. All of Alaska is an anglers dream.

The days are growing shorter. Each week we lose nearly an hour of daylight. Quite a change from those long days when we arrived only a few months ago. It feels "normal" - with darkness each night. There is a definite dawn in the early mornings and when I take Sedona out for her walk, the skies are soft gray and punctuated with pale orange and blue streaks. It is quiet and I savor that silence.

Moose are coming closer to our house. I see tracks on the dirt path behind us and Sedona goes into a frenzy as she sniffs the scents they've left behind. Imagine having such huge creatures wandering through your backyard!

People say that the first snow sometimes comes in September, but doesn't usually stick. Snow.... it's been so long.

September 3, 2003

Yellow Flower

Orange Flower




Flowers never emit so sweet and strong a fragrance as before a storm.
When a storm approaches thee, be as fragrant as a sweet-smelling flower.
~ Jean Paul Richter

Last night Steve was in the field so I was alone. After suffering from three days of insomnia, I decided to take a Tylenol PM in hopes that I would sleep through the night. Not only did I sleep through the night, but I slept late! I woke up feeling refreshed and a bit chilly. I suppose it's getting closer to the time of year when we're going to have to start closing the windows before we turn in for the night. A glance out the window revealed another gray, wet day. I didn't want to sit in all day so I called my friend, LuAnn.

LuAnn and I took our cameras and drove out to the university botanical garden. I have never photographed flowers in the rain, but thought it would be an interesting outing. LuAnn uses a traditional 35mm and she shot 2 rolls of film. Unfortunately she doesn't get the instant gratification that I get with my digital. After downloading my photos, I'm sure she is going to be thrilled when she gets her developed prints back.

After wandering around the garden, we drove further down the road to the reindeer farm. The latest news around here revolves around "Tundra Joe" - a five year old bull reindeer who has been missing from the facility since Sunday morning. Workers discovered a hole had been cut in the fence where he was penned up. Joe has been sighted in the area but has eluded capture. LuAnn and I took a few photos of the reindeer and then continued on.

I wanted to show LuAnn the view from Ester Dome Rd. This road does a steady uphill climb (and becomes dirt about halfway up) to the top of a bluff near the university. The view from up there is incredible! Despite the low hanging clouds and the colder temperatures, I got a few photos which show the colors of the foliage here in Fairbanks. LuAnn and I are hoping to take a drive up there later on in the season to get shots of the northern lights. I'll have to get Steve to take us up as I'm sure my little car won't climb the hill if there's any snow on the ground.

I took the photo at left today at the botanical garden. I learned a new technique in my photo editing program and can now add frames and mattes to my photos - as well as my signature and copyright information. I really love the way the frames add to the colors in my photos and have started using it for some of my favorite shots.

September 6, 2003

Current weather:

Mostly cloudy
41 degrees

Today it is supposed to be mostly sunny and reach 60! So much for staying in and watching movies!

It is 6am. I've been up for about an hour. I went to bed at 10pm, so I wouldn't exactly call this insomnia. The sky is gray but I can see the outlines of uplit clouds as the sun begins to rise. I hope it's a sunny day. We've had quite enough rain for my taste.

On Thursday night, I attended a "Wives Coffee" hosted at one of the gal's homes in North Pole. It was my first coffee and it gave me a chance to meet some of the officer's wives and also see my fellow First Sergeants wives again. I rode to the meeting with Maria and Maxine; their husbands are the 1SG for Headquarters and Bravo Co. (Steve is the 1SG for Charlie Co.)

The coffee is hosted monthly for the purpose of putting out information to the FRG. FRG is "Family Readiness Group". The FRG is a support system of sorts put into place to assist families who have questions or need information when their military spouse is deployed. Much of the time it is used as a means of creating camaraderie between the wives. Anyone who has ever moved to a new home in a new town knows that making friends can be difficult. The FRG also plans picnics and holiday parties as another means of bringing families together. Especially those families with children (which 99% are). Some people choose to be active participants. Some don't participate at all. In the past, I gave it a try once (when we first got to NC in 1996), but dropped out soon after. In that case, I found the group to be a collection of wives who entertained themselves by talking about other wives behind their backs. Not my speed... I have also worked full-time until now and attending the meetings and actively participating just wasn't possible for me.

Thursday night's coffee was quite enjoyable. Many of us are new to Alaska, so we're all in the same situation. Quite a few are still living in billeting (temporary housing), and others are still surrounded by boxes in their new quarters. There are many more families on the way and most should be here by Christmas.

After current business was discussed, we took turns introducing ourselves to the rest of the group. I am only one of two women who is "empty nesting", however there are a few ladies who don't have any children yet. The rest of the group has children at home; one new mom brought her 3-day old daughter to the meeting!

During introductions, I met a fellow photographer (Tricia) who does portraiture primarily. I also met a lady (Jane) who hails from PA - the Pittsburgh area - and has been stationed at the same posts we've been at. I met many others as well and look forward to future coffees to socialize with them again.

It is going to be a lazy weekend for Steve and I. Last night we went out to grab a bite to eat and stopped at Blockbuster for some movies. If the sun comes out, the movies may just have to go on hold. But if it rains again today, we intend to be lazy.

September 7, 2003

Happy Birthday Mom!
My Mom
My mom - not telling her age!

Beaver Lodge
Beaver Lodge


Steve and I decided to take another drive up Chena Hot Springs Rd. There were quite a few places we saw last time we took the drive that Steve wanted to try fishing in. Moose hunting season began on September 1st, and we ran into quite a few primitive campsites along the way. As an added surprise we came upon a cow moose in one of the small streams paralleling Chena Hot Springs Rd. When she saw me preparing to "shoot" her, she turned and quickly took off. I wonder if the wildlife knows it's hunting season?

We stopped several times along the way, so that Steve could cast a line and I could take some fall photos. The trees are a magnificent shade of yellow now and many leaves have already dropped in preparation for winter. The mornings are cold now (especially for us) and we no longer go to sleep with a few windows open. I see my breath when I walk the dog and always grab my fleece before venturing outdoors. Today I had to wear a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, AND my fleece to feel comfortable. I even put on my fleece gloves periodically to warm my fingers. I know that my family and friends on the east coast can't even relate to that right now.

Moose Cow
This moose cow was minding her own business until she saw me stop to take a photo. She then took off into the woods.
Beaver Pond Stream
This stream had a beaver lodge and dam in it.
Autumn has arrived!
Me and Steve

A few times Steve got some nibbles, but didn't get to reel anything in. He's getting discouraged, but it's not a good time for fishing. Especially with hunting season in full swing. Fairbanks is changing now... The tourists are dwindling. The motor homes and campers are few and far between. I noticed the other day when I went into Sam's Club to buy some dog food that the customers were "different". There were lots of people who came pulling trailers. I later found out that this is the time of year for the people who live in the "bush" to come into town to stock up on supplies before winter hits. I couldn't figure out why I saw so many people buying road salt and huge bags of dog food. Now I know. It makes sense... and is also something I would never have thought of if I didn't live in Alaska. There is a belief that when the fireweed reaches maturity, winter is only 6 weeks away. There is no "groundhog day" here. I have also been told that monitoring my dog's coat is a good indication of when winter will arrive. Sedona is in her second huge shed of the year. She has never shed this much before. On the heels of her shedding, I have noticed a thicker, denser coat developing. She knows it's time to prepare...

September 11, 2003


What an emotional day for all of us... I woke this morning and turned on the TV to see (pre-recorded) footage of the memorial services being held in NY for the victims of September 11th. I felt a little sad that we are four hours behind the east coast here in AK. I would have liked to have been watching the news in "real time" so I could have a moment of silence at the same time as the rest of the nation.

When Steve left for work, we held each other tighter than usual. Seeing footage from that horrible day, and hearing the families and friends speak about the loved ones they lost always brings tears. Holding my husband, I thought about all the people who are not able to hold their loved ones today.

As soon as Steve left, I called Brandon. I wanted Brandon to know just how much I love him and how proud I am of him and Becky for the courage they had to fight the war on terrorism. And how incredibly thankful I am that they are back on American soil. I expected to leave a message on his answering machine - it was 10:00am there and he should be at work. But he answered the phone and the sound of his voice made me break down and cry. I told him how I felt on this day and said much the same things I have said to him since he joined the Marines in March, 2001. But somehow, today saying it was different. Today, those we lost on that fateful day were in my heart. Their families were in my heart. The soldiers and airmen and Marines and seamen who are still away from home fighting the war on terrorism, were in my heart...

For many Americans, today marks the anniversary of a horrendous event in American history. For others it is one more day living with the sorrow of losing a family member or friend. Two years have passed. Most people have gone on with their lives. But not all can put September 11th behind them; only to think about it when the anniversary rolls around again. For many of us, September 11th is with us every day.

If you know a family who lost a loved one on September 11th, call them today and let them know you are thinking of them. If you know a family who has a husband or wife or child or parent fighting the war on terrorism, call them today and let them know you are thinking of them. They need your words of support every day - not just on an anniversary.

God Bless America. God Bless Us All.

September 13, 2003

Orange Cloud at Sunset
Orange Cloud at Sunset

Current Weather:
36 degrees
Feels like:
31 degrees

"For there are some people who can live without wild things about them and the earth beneath their feet, and some who cannot. To those of us who, in a city, are always aware of the abused and abased earth below the pavement, walking on grass, watching the flight of birds, or finding the first spring dandelion are rights as old and unalienable as the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We belong to no cult. We are not Nature Lovers. We don’t love nature any more than we love breathing. Nature is simply something indispensable, like air and light and water, that we accept as necessary to living, and the nearer we can get to it the happier we are."
Louise Dickenson Rich

The weather here is quickly changing and some of the leaves are now making their transition from colorful oranges and yellows to brown edged and spotted. Many have already fallen to the ground and their brilliance makes a wonderful contrast to the dark soil of the path behind the house.

I saw my first brilliant Alaskan sunset on Thursday evening. Steve and I were immersed in a documentary about September 11th and were both feeling a bit down. I got up to close the blinds and noticed an orange cloud passing behind the trees behind the house. I had never seen anything like it before. The rest of the sky was a deep blue and this lone cloud was completely orange (see photo at left).

I turned to my right and that's when I saw the brilliant shades of red and orange filtering through the trees. Of course I grabbed my camera and took off running to the break in the fence, so I could get into the neighborhood behind me and out of the grove of trees.

Alaska SunsetI stopped short when I saw the intense colors of the sky. I shot photo after photo until I filled my digital memory card. My hands were frozen and I could barely move them to push the shutter button. It was COLD! (Steve told me that the temperatures outside were in the low 30's!)

In the evening, it has been dipping into the high 20's. During the day it gets into the low 50's if the sun comes out. Today it hit 53 degrees. The snow flurries that were predicted haven't showed up yet, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing them before next week is through.

Today, Steve and I went out to dinner with two other couples. Steve works with the guys, and it was my first time meeting their wives. Jason and Stacey will be leaving here at the end at November. They've been here several years. Although Jason has enjoyed his stay in Alaska, Stacey is more than ready to head back to the "Lower 48". That's the way it is here in AK. It seems you either love it or hate it - there's not really an "in-between" from what I hear. The other couple (ironically Steven and Susan!) were also very nice. They just arrived two weeks ago and drove here from NC. Susan has her degree in web design as well, but her love is computer animation. She is also quite disappointed with the job market here in our field. Perhaps she and I can come up with a game plan...

Fort Wainwright and DenaliOn the way home from dinner, I noticed what I thought were really bright white clouds on the horizon. When we reached another clearing, I realized that those "clouds" were mountains! I snapped this photo at about 7:30pm. The orange hue on the peak is the beginning colors of sunset. I took this photo from Birch Hill - the ski slope here on post. It is times like these that I know I have to order myself a zoom lens for my camera.

Tomorrow, Steve and I are going to meet Jan DeNapoli - a musher who lives nearby. I first contacted Jan when I saw she belonged to another online group I am of a member of (Alaska Living). We are going to meet her, her dogs, and the two litters of new puppies who were just born over the past few weeks. I am really excited about meeting Jan, and hope to get some great shots while there. Jan and I have discussed the possibility of me taking photos of her and her team, in exchange for a ride or two on her sled. I don't have a problem at all with bartering if it's going to result in experiences like this.

September 14, 2003

One of the team
One of the team

Jan and one of her dogs
Jan and one of her beautiful dogs

Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality, Jan. I look forward to visiting with you again!

Today is another gorgeous - but chilly - day in Fairbanks. The sun is shining, despite the colder temperatures and I couldn't wait to get out the door and head to Jan's place in Two Rivers. I was really looking forward to meeting Jan, her dogs and the new puppies.

We got to her place about 10:00am as planned. As soon as we started down the driveway, we heard the barking of the dogs. There is no need for an alarm system when you have 56 dogs living on your property! Jan's dad was in the yard mixing up some food and we introduced ourselves to him. Jan soon came out of the terrific log cabin; a huge smile stretched across her face.

Steve and I went inside and chatted a bit with Jan and her friend, Paul - a photographer visiting Alaska with the goal of shooting a photo journal about the sport of dog sledding (I can only hope to one day have one tenth of the camera equipment he had. By the way... if you're reading this, Hi Jan and Paul!) After enjoying a terrific cup of Mexican coffee, we headed outside to meet the puppies.

Awww... I want a puppy!
Puppies! I want one!
Cuddling for warmth
If you want to stay warm, you gotta cuddle up

There are twelve puppies - all of them as cute as the next. It's a good thing I am not allowed to have more than two animals living here on Post, or I would surely have made Steve take me down to the shelter after holding these adorable babies. I just love the smell of puppy breath! (All you dog lovers understand...)

After visiting with the newest additions to Jan's team, we continued on to visit the others. The barking was overwhelming and the dogs seemed extremely excited to see Jan. Perhaps the fact that there were two strangers in their territory also contributed to their behavior. They hopped on and off the tops of their doghouses and ran in circles. Barking constantly as if yelling "Come here and visit me!" I got close enough to several of these beautiful and very hyperactive dogs to pet them. Standing on their hind legs, they seemed delighted with the attention. I was covered in dog hair in no time and frankly, I didn't care.

Steve talked to Jan about the sport of mushing, while I wandered around trying to find good subjects to shoot. It was difficult to find a dog who wasn't jumping around wildly and many of my shots were blurred as a result. The cold was also taking its toll on my fingers which felt frozen solid and made it difficult for me to depress the shutter button. But I did get some decent shots regardless.

Jan invited Steve and I to come back in the winter and take a ride on a sled. I would love to do that! What a way to truly experience Alaska!

September 18, 2003

(Just after 1am - Alaska Time)

It truly was green! They say it can be many colors, but this seemed to be the only shade in the sky tonight. I am so happy to have seen it!

On another note... because of the threat of Hurricane Isabel, Brandon and Becky were forced to evacuate the mobile home they're renting in Hubert, NC (they are about 15 minutes from the beach). I spoke to him this afternoon as he was gathering up clothing and valuables. The hotels inland are booked solid, but he and three other couples managed to find a 2BR suite available which they are going to share until this blows over. Let's hope the storm bounces back into the ocean and doesn't cause the widespread flooding and damage others have caused in the past.


Just after it got dark outside, I took the dog out for her walk and noticed faint "clouds" in the sky. I knew they weren't really clouds because they were vertical as opposed to horizontal. For the past day or two, people have been buzzing about seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis). One of the girls in my online spouse group posted a notice that the forecast for seeing the lights tonight was favorable - weather permitting. Periodically, I'd look out my blinds to see if I could see anything. I really didn't even know what I was looking for. My only experience seeing the aurora was pictures I've seen online or on television. A few times I saw faint "lights" of some sort, but they weren't anything to get all excited about. Nevertheless, I got my camera ready. I tried to get my tripod set up but it was like having a wrestling match, so I gave up. If I saw anything, I'd just have to hold my breath as I shot the photo. Just after midnight, I got up out of bed to take one last look before turning in for the night. The sky had bands of green light moving over it. It was a bit eerie - the tendrils of green looked like fingers at times. I grabbed my camera, threw on my robe and slippers and went out into the 32 degree night air. Dressed like that, I couldn't very well go traipsing all over the neighborhood, so I had to take my photos from the backyard. Without the tripod, quite a few turned out a bit blurry. I think I was shaking from excitement most of all! But I did get a few which turned out just fine. The only bad thing is the electrical wires in the photos. Next time, I'll be dressed and better prepared!

September 19, 2003

The Ballad of the Northern Lights

“And the skies of night were alive with light, with a throbbing, thrilling flame;

Amber and rose and violet, opal and gold it came.

It swept the sky like a giant scythe,
it quivered back to a wedge;

Argently bright, it cleft the night,
with a wavy golden edge.”

~ Robert Service ~

Last night the Northern Lights made their appearance again. And this time I was ready with my tripod. I am so excited to have been able to witness such incredible splendor. The lights played across the sky and shimmered and moved constantly. It's hard to explain them to someone who hasn't seen them before. They resemble fast-moving and shifting clouds that glow in the dark. Some people say they can "hear" them. I can't profess to that... but maybe if I were in a quiet place, I'd have that experience.

The night air was cold - very cold. I wore new gloves that Steve bought me specifically for photography. They are a very thin material and made of thinsulate. Nevertheless, I just didn't feel comfortable wearing the glove on my right hand - the hand I use for depressing the shutter button. Guess I will have to get myself a fingerless glove for that hand. Going without a glove took it's toll on me. My hand started to cramp after about 20 minutes and I had to give up and go back inside 30 minutes into my shoot. I know I'll see the lights again. I hope I get a chance to see the blue and pink and red lights people have described. I wanted to share some of last night's photos with you.

Lights above the house Swirling clouds

September 21, 2003


I heard from Brandon and Becky yesterday. I guess Brandon doesn't think I worry about him now that he's married - WRONG!

They weathered the storm fine. Some trees went down, and lots of branches broke and fell, but nothing major. They're back in their trailer and life is back to normal for them.

Becky told me how happy she was that the temperatures there were in the high 70's after all the scorching heat they've had. I told her it was in the 30's here and she laughed. Why do people react that way?

Becky is managing to get around without crutches now, but she's not entirely healed. She's still planning on getting out of the Marines in February if they'll release her. They want her to make a full recovery before they let her leave.

Still no news about any of the positions I applied for and frankly, it's no big deal. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Besides, Steve seems to enjoy having a stay at home wife taking care of the house for him. I won't be able to go on like this forever - that's for sure - but for now... it's kind of nice.


Well the temperatures are hovering pretty closely to "freezing". The town of Tok (Steve and I camped there just before arriving in Fairbanks) got it's first snowfall yesterday and it will probably stick around until May. I am excited about the snow coming. I am thinking about all the great photo opportunities I will have. I am NOT thinking about freezing my behind off.

Friday night, Steve and I attended a Hail and Farewell gathering at the LTCs (Lieutenant Colonel) house. Quite a few soldiers are leaving Fort Wainwright and quite a few new ones have arrived - to include my husband. These gatherings are an easy way to take care of saying "hello" and "goodbye" while everyone is in the same place. The LTC and his wife provided the meat and drinks and the rest of us helped out by bringing side dishes, salads, and desserts. The gathering was held outside because their house couldn't accommodate all of us. The food and most of the tables were set up in the garage, but the garage only provided minimal shelter from the elements. A cold wind arrived just before 7pm and no matter who I sat close to, I couldn't get warm. As soon as the important stuff was over, Steve and I rushed home to warmth.

Today, I met up with four other gals I met in my online group (AlaskaMilitarySpouses) to go bowling. By the way... I wrote a letter to the Army Times about this wonderful group and they published my letter! Since that issue came out, we have had at least 5 or 6 new gals join the group. I think it's great and I hope that they feel as "at home" as I have. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't joined and made the acquaintance of women already here. It surely makes the transition much easier.

Our bowling left a lot to be desired for the most part. All of us were rusty; even the few who have bowled a lot more frequently than I have. We only played two games, but it took us more than two hours to complete them with all the talking and laughing we were doing.

It was my first time meeting Vikki and Marjorie (Mo). Marjorie just arrived in Fairbanks last week, and Vikki arrived in April. Vikki's husband is in the Air Force and they are stationed at Eielson AFB, which is about 25 miles east of Fort Wainwright. Both gals were great fun to hang out with and we plan on doing it regularly. As new wives arrive over the next few months, we'll gladly add them to our bowling excursions if they're interested.

LuAnn is not one to be messed with!
Nina - the PRO
The gang's all here
The gang's all here... and waiting for more members!
September 25, 2003

Northern Lights and FogLast night the Northern Lights made their appearance once again. We've been having quite a bit of activity lately. Last night it was a bit different because heavy clouds were rolling in and the lights were far above them. It really was an eerie sight with the green lights and the pinkish/orange glow of the clouds. (The clouds seemed to be picking up the little bit of light being cast by the neighborhood streetlights.)

The winds were picking up something fierce last night and the temperatures were really low. I found out today - from a friend who lives on Eielson AFB (21 miles east of here) - that they woke to a dusting of snow. It won't be long now!

Yesterday, I spent a few hours with my friend, Susan. There are too many similarities between the two of us! She is an accomplished Web Developer with a passion for Animation. She is also a redhead. Her husband's name is Stephen. She loves photography and even owns the same camera I do. We took a drive to the Reindeer Research Facility at UAF and then up on Ester Dome Rd. I wanted to show her the same places I had taken LuAnn a few weeks back so she could go back and shoot photos on her own if she wanted to. After freezing to death on the top of the bluff overlooking Fairbanks (and trying to take pictures without getting frostbite on our fingers), we headed to a local coffee shop in downtown Fairbanks.

Nursing our mocha lattes and sharing a huge chocolate chip cookie, we relaxed and talked for nearly two hours. The coffee shop is small and quaint and on the weekends a folk singer performs. I'll have to go back for that sometime. Susan also took me into the Alaska Public Lands Information Center and Museum. There were displays about Alaska and stuffed animals (not the toy kind; the taxidermy kind) of all the wildlife here in AK. It was very interesting and I'd like to go back again and explore some more.

September 26, 2003

The path and snow
Snow along the bike path

Of course, along with snow comes cold weather. It's below the freezing point out there. Steve said that there are some icy spots on the roads too. I don't look forward to driving in the mess, but I do love the way it makes the world look.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

OK...so it's not coming down now, but it came down last night! I'm so excited and can't wait to see MORE!

I got up with Steve this morning at 5:30am. I was still laying in bed, trying to wake up when he said, "It snowed last night!" Well, I bounded out of bed and started looking out all the windows. It was a little difficult to see the snow since it was still before dawn, but you could still tell that everything had a white coating to it. I immediately grabbed my camera and threw on my shoes and ran outside.

About an hour later, the sky was bright and I could see the landscape much better. It is beautiful! This time, I took a short walk on the path behind our house with Sedona running along behind me. I took lots of photos - especially close-ups of the snow on the leaves.

Snow covered Rose Hip Snow-covered rosehip
Frosted Leaves
Frosting on the leaves
September 30, 2003

I can't believe it's the last day of September already. This year has gone by so quickly and has brought so much change in my life. It's hard to believe that at this time last year, Steve and I were celebrating his selection for promotion to Master Sergeant and realizing that we would soon be leaving Florida. We didn't know yet that Alaska would be our next duty station; we only knew that he would have to transfer with the promotion. How happy we are that things worked out the way they did.

The snow we received on Friday was gone by Friday evening for the most part. The temperatures had risen into the 40's and the sun came out, melting all but the snow hidden in the trees or on the tops of the bluffs surrounding the city. So now the city is back to looking like a city - with it's concrete and dead flowers. This is certainly not the prettiest time of year. The autumn colors are quickly turning to brown, the summer flowers are gone, and traffic is heavier as the people who live in the bush come into town to stock up on the supplies they will need to get them through another winter.

The views are still magnificent from the hills and bluffs surrounding Fairbanks - but I suspect that remains pretty consistent, no matter what the season. The skies truly grow black now - a real "night time". It still doesn't occur until after 8pm for the most part (true darkness, that is), but with nightfall comes the awesome sight of stars.

Big Dipper TracedI have never seen so many stars in my life! They blanket the sky like polka dots - different sizes and of varying luminosity. The Big Dipper can be seen just outside my back door. I took a photo of it the night before last.

The Northern Lights haven't been out lately. Some say they appear more frequently when it is cold. The temperatures have been fluctuating quite a bit over the past few days. Yesterday it remained in the 40's most of the day - and I believe it reached the 50's in the middle of the afternoon. Tomorrow they are calling for temperatures in the high 60's! I suppose we should be grateful for these mild temperatures. It is probably just Mother Nature's way of taunting us before the onslaught of frigid weather that will stay until spring.