Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Visit by Sandhill Crane Colts

We regularly have sandhill cranes wander through our yard and neighborhood, but a few days ago was the first time we had colts come as well. It was a treat to watch them from my front deck!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Going Outside 2017

Going back to Michigan to visit always puts me in a reflective state, noticing the differences between life "down there" as compared to life "up here" in Alaska. It had been four years since we'd been back, so it was interesting to see it with fresh eyes.

Wildlife - We arrived in Michigan at 5 a.m. and found a park to hang out in for a few hours. As we were sitting there at Fuller Park in Ann Arbor, a small herd of deer wandered closer and closer to us. We were tickled to get a bit of wildlife in the city! We were also amazed, as we drove about the state, how many dead deer were on the side of the road. In Alaska the moose kill system is highly developed, so every moose that is hit and killed is picked up, usually within the hour. It seems wasteful and unsanitary to just leave the dead animals on the side of the road. I looked up the Michigan law and it appears very easy to take the roadkill--a quick call to local law enforcement agencies or 911 with details about the location takes care of it. But perhaps people don't know they can, or the deer is not dead when they hit it, or they don't know what to do with it if they did take it. Whatever the reasons, we were surprised  about that.

Cars, Traffic & Speed Limits - Just yesterday as we were driving around Homer, I said to my husband, "Homer makes me feel good--lots of people have older cars than we have!" In Michigan, our 2000 Subaru would not fit in; in Homer it is the norm. I was impressed at how many new cars there were; or rather, the lack of old cars. Along with that, the amount of traffic on the freeways was amazing, and they're going along at 80+ mph since the speed limit is 75! It took us a week to get somewhat comfortable with going 75. It seems way too fast, especially for the amount of traffic on the roads! Of course, when we got back to Alaska, going 55 or 65 in some areas seemed really slow!

Weather - Our first day in Michigan was 95 in Ann Arbor I think, which luckily did not continue. After that, days were in the high 70's or 80's, and it was the strangest thing to wear shorts and short sleeve shirts every day, all day. Since being back in Homer (where we are pleased if it reaches 60 degrees!), I've worn shorts once, for a couple hours when the sun was out yesterday. The moment the clouds came over, it got too chilly and I started layering up.  It was actually pleasant to have that warm weather, and I recall when we moved here I thought Homer summers were chilly. Now I consider Homer summers 'normal':  assume you will be wearing pants and jackets all summer, and take a hat with you no matter what the season!

Our bachelor buttons went from just up to full bloom in a few weeks!

Vegetation - There are so many trees in Michigan! They go on and on and on! It's not that we don't have trees here, it's just that many have been hit with the spruce beetle or the spruce aphids so look dead or dying, and many of our 'trees' are just big shrubs, like alders. Take those away and our landscape would be relatively bare. But when we arrived back in Homer, I was shocked at how everything had grown in two weeks. Those weeks in mid-June are prime growing time, and I often say Alaska in the summer almost feels like a jungle--things are so green, vibrant and prolific. Michigan is green as well, but the annual plants don't grow quite so tall. The long days create some tall plants.

Sunday morning at Costco in Anchorage!

Food & Shopping - It must have been the restaurants we were going to, but we could not find a single vegetable on the menu besides potatoes or cole slaw for a week of eating out. It became a game for me to try to find veggie side with a main dish. In one restaurant they gave Doug a single stalk of asparagus. We were cracking up. Food is cheaper in Michigan, but in more ways than just cost. And of course, upon our return to Alaska, we did the Costco run, and were entertained by the crowd of folks standing in line waiting to get into Costco on Sunday morning!