Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Springtime in Alaska at 70° above!!!

Hello again,
It is now May 18, 2010 and SPRING is here. I have been working outside in this beautiful fresh spring green weather with the returning birds singing their hearts out. Ahhhh I love winter, but spring is lovely too. Reminds me of the poem I have on the windowsill above my desk:

"Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life."

And it does feel like the "best season of my life."
I have been cleaning up around the place, getting ready for summer visitors. I had my first tour last week and the Cruise West guests were so refreshing and down-to-earth. We had a great morning together. The dogs were happy to meet some new friends and the weather was perfect.
Now I have a week to finish all the projects I had started and not completed, before my next tour. I also want to make an overnight trip down to Denali Park. I like to be there in May to see how the winter has left the land. "Will there still be an abundance of snowshoe hares?" "Will the moose have their calves yet?" "Will the ptarmigan be chortling from the tops of the highest spruce trees in their territories?" Oh it will be wonderful to see the land I love so much. My first 5 years in Alaska, after I moved here. I spent backpacking in the Park. I can't get out to those places anymore, but I can certainly remember the magic of carpets of windflowers on the glacial moraine, and walking in the hoof prints of caribou tracks, trails used for thousands of years.
And camping near some singing side channel of a big river, where the water was clear and perhaps a dipper would hop by, searching for insects in the water. Oh I could go on and on and on.. more than you want to read I'm sure.

My garden is mostly planted. One more trip to the green house for some flowers to fill in here and there and the place will be ready. My friends Josh and Nita built me some lovely raised beds, getting the soil up off the ground so it stays warmer and the plants thrive. AND with seats along the length so I can sit and smell the roses and weed or read or take a nap. Gardening has never been this inviting.

Most of the peonies came up again this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be blooms galore.
Well, I better get back to work, Nice to talk with you. I hope your spring is as refreshing as this one is here. By the way , the last stars are hard to find in the dusky night sky. The midnight sun will be here in a few more weeks. AND THEN it is all downhill until winter!!!!

May the Sweet Spring bloom around you.


PS. Yes it is true, I forgot how to get onto the blog, but a young man, Ryan Bowers is here helping move gravel into the dog yard, and he helped me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow at last!


Yikes spring seems to be here. temperature 25-35° above zero... and it’s just mid February!! Normal temperatures should be about +5°F.

My sled dogs are beginning to shed their winter coats. The trails are getting mushy and messy. And I am missing winter already.

I know, I know.. You folks on the east coast, who have had more snow than we have this winter, would love to see an early spring, but we live here because we love winter. Where can we go? How much farther north can we go? And why do we love living here?

 Let me tell you:

First thing in the morning, the sun is rising about 7:50, off to the south by south east. The sky slowly blossoms in cherry blossoms, than peach blossoms and then pale yellow morning spreads out behind the Alaska Range of mountains. At the very moment of sunrise the sun floats up shooting rays to ignite the tops of the spruce trees around the cabin. The chick-a-dee-dee-dees take this as a signal to flit into the bird feeders for a breakfast of sunflower seeds. By then the sled dogs are stretching and shaking and looking in the window.” Hey Mom, we’re ready to roll. What’s taking you so long?”

Well, I’m inside, answering e-mails and doing dishes and getting ready to go off to elementary school, where I am teaching the kid-os about taking care of dogs, and dog mushing and reading and writing. I love working with these young minds. They are so spontaneous and curious. When they start wiggling, I know I have gone on too long. Clifford accompanies  me and the kids love my  gentle giant. 

When I get home from school, I go out and clean the dog yard, and if there is time , we go for a toot around the neighborhood. On days I don’t have a school visit, we go on longer runs. Last weekend it was wonderful to go out to the cabin again. 

My friends Nita and North Pole Miriam, had some guests who wanted to mush out to there. We lunched on moose stew and fresh bread and memories of living down on the Alaska Railroad , half way to Anchorage. Tim, one of the new mushers, works for the railroad and  wanted to compare the rumors with the reality, so the summer guides would have correct information. I am also grateful for that.

The  little cabin is west of this Goldstream Cabin. John, my former husband and I  built it in 74-75. The cabin is in the Tanana State Forest and is in a grove of old BoreaL Forest, of white spruce and paper birch trees. The oldest trees are probably close to 200 years old and usually this forest burns about every 100 years. s. The cabin is about 14’x14’ with a little back room of 6’x14’ added on. There is a tall cache, a storage shed, a sauna, 2 woodsheds. and a guest cabin. The oldest of these buildings is beginning to show its age and needs some work. The sod roof has seedlings growing up that need a clear-cutting.

Feb. 23,2010

AT last the snow is snowing.. maybe 1/2 fell today. better than nothing. Looks all bright and clean again. 

The Olympics are fascinating.  I am amazed at what the human body can do. Inspired.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October halfmoon watching and waiting

WHERE does the time go???  Another summer has past, my garden is "put to bed" for the winter. WE has snow 2 weeks ago and today the temp. is predicted to rise to 55-65°. NO DENYING GLOBAL WARMING HERE! The 12th is my birthday and I always go dog sledding on my birthday but this year I'm going canoeing. I trust snow and cold will get here, so I'll just enjoy this warm weather and get some last minute fall chores done. Leaves are mostly done and the winter.

The dogs are well. o.j. is sleeping on the wicker couch on the deck, looking in the window at me, hoping I will let him inside.
A visitor at the door. more later

Saturday, June 20, 2009

summer solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska

Good Morning on the longest day of the year; Summer Solstice. We have over 22 hoursof daytlight today and the community is celebrating. I am one of the very small minority who quietly  know it will be getting a little darker, just 7 minutes a day, and winter is slowly rolling around,, or I should say our earth is rolling toward winter.
Yes it is lovely today too. The air is fresh after a good rain last night.I'm sitting out on the deck with my morning coffee, wearing long pants and a sweatshirt, and I am a tiny bit chilled. Temperature about 60° but predicted to go up to 70-75° - perfect. The lilacs have been blooming for a week now and the wild iris  smile along the roads. The birds have fledged their first round of babies and the garden opens further each day. Spinach harvested last night. Friends are departing for Dillingham for the Red Salmon fishery. I wish them good luck, as I buy my winter's supply of the best wild salmon Alaska has to offer, from these fishers. 

Tours have been pretty slow this season. I think people are worried about the economy. The people who have come out have been very nice and I've enjoyed meeting them. The sled dogs are looking up at me as if to say<"Come on Mom, let's play!" So  off I go. I trust your weekend will sunny and perfect. Bye Bye, Mary

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The leaves are out and I am learning how to post to my blog. please bear with me.
Oh and news from Pyrola Publishing, my books will be available through Pay Pal.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Good Morning from Fairbanks, Alaska. My friends have convinced me to start a blog, so here goes. TODAY IS APRIL 10. The first snowbuntings have been sighted around Fairbanks this past week. The snow is melting like crazy, but before noon, the sled dog trails are still frozen and fast. As the temp goes up, the snow gets mushy and the dogs get over heated. Lots of rolling around in the snow to cool off. Pussy willows are puffing out and the ravens are dancing in the blue sky above. I love winter, so this all comes with a little bittersweetness. The full moon is orange at night and the night sky never really gets dark dark. We won't see another real full moon until next September. We have at least 14 hours of daylight and it's strange to say good night to Charlie Rose at 11:30pm and the light still beams in.Summer is sneaking in.
I hope you are enjoying the spring weather wherever you may be. If you are a friend who visited during the past summers, I send my warm greetings to you. If you might be visiting this summer, don't think twice. You will love your Alaskan Adventure. If you're visiting Fairbanks, check out my tour at www.maryshields.com
Hope to meet you.
Happy Trails,
Mary Shields