It’s that Time of the Year

Winter in Alaska may be cold, but in so many ways, it’s the most beautiful time of year. We finally received some of the snow we were waiting for, and now, on clear nights when all the stars are out, the land sparkles like something out of a fairy tale.

One of the benefits of living in a very rural area like I do is that there is very limited light pollution. The moon and the stars can really light up the night, and the Northern Lights are much more visible when they decide to make an appearance.

Another great thing about all this snow is that I am more able to track the wildlife in my yard. Along with the usual bird, squirrel, and moose tracks, this year I have identified rabbit, lynx, and coyote. I really enjoy scanning the snow for the trails to see where they come from, and I’ve found it interesting that although these critters have clearly investigated my open compost bin, they haven’t really bothered it. I suppose that frozen vegetable peels aren’t so appetizing if wild food isn’t scarce!

The best picture I could get of that sneaky squirrel!

The birds are still here in droves, and the Woodpeckers will come when I call them, from a half a mile away! I’ve been seeing lots more Redpoles, and the Pine Grosbeaks have been here on and off. The Chickadees are almost always at the feeder, and the squirrel seems to be acting a lot more cautious around all the birds, which tells me that the Woodpecker is enforcing the rules.

The holidays have brought out all the old, familiar recipes again. Homemade mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, crockpot stews and lots of warm bread have all been gracing my table lately. It may be cold outside, but it isn’t so bad when you have something simmering in the kitchen. It has been getting harder to find still-fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve noticed that the winter squash has started to soften, and even sprout inside, just a few days home from the grocery store.

Thankfully, December 21st came and went, and we all still seem to be here, which means that I can officially start planning my 2013 garden… (No point planning it if the whole earth is going to cease to exist, right?!) There are, as always, lots of changes in store for both the contents and the layout. The fence itself will be moved and re-purposed as the exterior perimeter fence for the bird coop and yard. The current raised beds will surely be modified in some way or other, and new garden areas seem to pop up every year, regardless of my plans.

The kids are still thinking about what particular vegetables they would like to grow, and once they make that list, I’ll fill in the rest. It will be a great thing to get it all going again, and to start harvesting fresh Goose and Chicken eggs this spring. These thoughts of summers bounty will carry me through the rest of the winter.

Finally, for those like me who will be spending the next 3 months planning every little detail of the summer to come: Remember not to stress too much about the details, because you are going to change all your plans a week before spring hits anyway!

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Jamie shares her thoughts and ideas as she explores organic gardening and permaculture in Big Lake, Alaska. She writes about chemical-free gardening in a cooler climate, saving energy or using alternatives, cooking from scratch, and living a more frugal lifestyle.