Alaska Shorts: Alaskan Spring by Barbara Njaa

Its spring again on the Cook Inlet.
We feel more a part of the seasons,
the rhythm of growing and dying.
Now snow is dying and black currant
buds are plump, waiting to open.
Seagulls have returned – their raucous
cries punctuate the soft sounds of waves.
The ice berm is pocked and rotted,
uneven mounds of sand and clay mark the ones already gone.
Morning comes early, the flush of
peach and rose brighten the northeastern sky.
Wondrous joy after winters long darkness.
Always there is something new –
Something that has percolated through
our consciousness for a number of seasons and finally pooled into action.
This spring we are gathering birch sap
for punch.
It is exciting to hurry home and walk
out back to our lovely
cow with roots
To check the plastic pail attached
gently to her papery trunk.
She gives a quart or more a day so
At first, we would go to look and find
one small drop.
Then a warm day brought surging sap up
from the ground and our small-scale collecting began.
We thought about making syrup but
decided that seemed like work.
So we simply enjoy iced sap with a
squeeze of lemon.
New to us, old as Alaska, refreshing.
Breakup is in full swing but nothing
like it used to be.
Years of shoveling gravel and sand
have finally made a difference.
We no longer walk for a week or two
while the road firms up.
When it is time for work, we just hop
in the car and drive gingerly to the highway.
No brisk walking through the dawn
chill, crunching over frozen layers into watery depths,listening to a
woodpecker and wondering when the first swans will come in on the nearby slough
Warming up, meeting a moose chewing
spring twigs and in no hurry to leave, finally reaching the car and starting
it, realizing I needed an extra thirty minutes as I am running late.
The change is lovely.
Being pampered is novel and the walk
can wait until I return home.
Nothing is growing yet,
Though signs of soon-bursting growth
are there in the brown rust of birch twigs, the swollen buds of currants.
Snow melts, drifts lying on northern
slopes and under tawny grasses.
Its easy to walk in the woods before the
great fan leaves of devil
s club and wild
celery wall the roadside in jungle-thick green.
Rushing meltwater makes its way into
Inlet waters.

Alaskan spring!

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