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Saturday, September 1st - Sorrow

No matter the time, no matter the age, no matter the circumstance, when you lose your mother, you feel as though you've lost a part of your very self.





Missing you more, one year later. I love you, Mom.

Tuesday, September 4th - Watching Autumn Arrive

Last Wednesday (August 29th), my friend Angie came to Fairbanks for a visit. Angie lives in Anchorage and was on a road tripping vacation around the state. She arrived early enough in the morning for us to enjoy a nice breakfast at The Cookie Jar before continuing on to various Fairbanks landmarks.

After breakfast, we went to Creamers Field to see the cranes and walk the boreal forest trail. The sun was shining, and the weather was warm - much warmer than I expected, which was nice. After walking, we went to the Botanical Gardens and did a quick lap. Many of the flowers are still pretty, but some are already faded and brown. We also visited Pioneer Park, Birch Hill Cemetery, and then drove to the top of Murphy Dome where we hiked down to the first Tors rock. It was a beautiful day, and the views from Murphy Dome were spectacular as always. I even got a slight sunburn.

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Friday, September 7th - Missing Mom on her Birthday
Dear Mom,

If you were still walking on this earth, you'd be 69 today. I'd have called you and sang the Happy Birthday song to you, and when you heard my voice, you would have exclaimed "It's my daughter!" as if you hadn't heard from me in ages. I loved the way you got all excited to hear my voice on the phone - even if we had just talked the day before.

You would have told me all about your birthday plans, which almost always included a night of dancing with your friends at the Senior Center. You would have gone dancing 'stag', so that you could dance with every man there. *grin* You were the Belle of the Ball, and I heard those sentiments a hundred times over at your Memorial Dance. So many people loved spending time with you, and I know that dances aren't the same without your warm smile, and your grace and enthusiasm on the dance floor.

My wish is that you are with Daddy now, and the two of you are dancing on a cloud. I will never forget the way you both moved in perfect tandem when you jitterbugged. The way your fingertips brushed as you twirled past him, the way you smiled at each other, the flirtation in both your eyes.

I'll never forget the way Daddy would respond when you'd get dressed up to go out together. Even after more than 30 years of marriage, he'd get a big smile on his face and shout out to all of us "Look at my beautiful bride!" when you'd come out of the bedroom all dolled up. And you'd blush a little as he took you in his arms and kissed you. I am so happy that I was raised in a home with so much love.

I believe that the love continues outside this mortal plane. And I believe that someday I will see you both again - happy together.

But that doesn't keep me from missing you.

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, dear Mommy. Happy Birthday to you!

Sunday, September 9th - Fall in Fairbanks
"If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection.
It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone.
Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it's time to reflect on what's come before."

~ Mitchell Burgess, Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992 ~

With each passing day, the leaves throw off the emerald colors of spring and summer, and glow in the light with gold, and yellow, and orange. The smallest of breezes, brings a flurry of sunshine to my yard; contrasting beautifully with the brown of the earth. Despite the reminder that winter is not far off, it is a most spectacular performance by Mother Nature.

I had errands to do in town yesterday, and made plans to stop at Creamers Field to enjoy and photograph the autumn foliage of the birch, aspen, and poplar. I took Sedona with me for company.

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Friday, September 14th - If you blink, you'll miss it.

Since I posted my last entry, the leaves have turned a brilliant yellow-orange and are dropping off the trees. Autumn in Alaska is definitely fleeting, and I try to get out as often as possible - camera in tow - to catch the lovely colors of the season before they're gone.

I've started the season of insomnia. The change of seasons brings it upon me. With Steve working nights, it's even more pronounced. I find myself dozing off at midnight, and then being wide awake at 3am. I usually come downstairs and flip on the TV for some entertainment. What I've discovered is that the best movies are on in the middle of the night. I'm a huge fan of classic films and musicals and I am thankful for the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and AMC (American Movie Classics) channels. A few early mornings ago, I enjoyed My Fair Lady and would have belted out the song Loverly, if Steve weren't upstairs fast asleep. At least I was happy in my sleeplessness.

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Wednesday, September 19th - Photographing Fall before it goes away - Denali Highway

On Sunday, Steve and I didn't get up until after 8am, which was much later than we planned on waking. A glance out the window revealed pouring rain, overcast skies, and low hanging clouds and mist. A glance at the outside thermometer showed that it was a chilly 36F.

Our plan would have us driving from Fairbanks to Cantwell (about 150 miles), and then across the Denali Highway (135 miles - 95 of it gravel) to Paxson, and then back to Fairbanks (about 200 miles). After looking out the window, and seeing the heavy rain, we made a last minute decision to alter our route. Instead, we drove to Paxson, turned onto the Denali Highway and drove to McClaren Summit (the highest elevation on the highway - about 40 miles). We turned around at that point, and retraced our route home. We also took my car, instead of the truck - to save on gas. We drove just about 500 miles, and it took us 10 hours.

The *highlights* (or maybe not so much of a highlight - especially to my Alaska friends):

  • Snow is on Donnelly Dome.
  • Snow is on every single mountain top up and down the Richardson highway.
  • The temperature dropped to 33F as we were driving.
  • It snowed on and off, the entire time we were on the Denali Highway.
  • The fall foliage is still absolutely gorgeous, but probably won't last much longer.

Yes boys and girls... winter is on its way - and its coming quickly!

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Tuesday, September 25th - "When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock"

(The title of this entry is taken from the poem by James Whitcomb Riley entitled "When the Frost is on the Punkin")

Fall is officially over. Overnight temperatures have dipped below freezing. My sunflowers now stand in a row, looking sad and forlorn. Their once cheery heads gaze at the ground and their leaves are curled and brown. The few houseplants I had on my deck (which I forgot to bring in) are beyond help. Their leaves fell off when the dirt froze in the pot. It is a sad sight in my backyard, where once bright yellow flowers were backed by orange and golden birch leaves. Now there are bare trees, brown leaves on the ground, and dead flowers. I have often said that I don't like the month of April in Alaska, with the leafless trees and dirty, melting snow - but now I do believe that the week when we transition from fall to winter is truly my least favorite. Even my mood has drooped, as I watch the foliage die. While I'm not ready for snow, at least it will make everything beautiful again.

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Sunday, September 30th - “The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.” Frederic Lawrence Knowles

The moon at night as been absolutely gorgeous. It lights up the yard around our house, making it feel like early morn or dusk, rather than the middle of the night.

The trees cast shadows upon the ground, and up the side of the house, like long reaching arms - a perfect illusion as we head into October and towards Halloween.

I was up in the middle of the night (3am-ish) and, as always, I looked outside for the northern lights. I was surprised to see the front yard lit up so brightly. I did what would be expected of me: I grabbed my camera and tripod, slipped on Steve's oversized loafers (they were by the front door), tightened my bathrobe around me, and went out into my front yard to take some photos.

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©2007 Susan L Stevenson