Spring arrived early in Alaska this year. Leaves pop out in mid-April instead of early May. Cranes, geese, and grebes are back already. Is the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival too late this year—May 12-15? Will the shorebirds have already passed by on their way a warmer than usual Arctic? I’ve been trying to catch up on spring, thumbing through my bird books, listening to bird songs on my Audubon app. Trying to remember who’s singing in the woods, the swamps, and the shore. All this brings back memories of other springs, other summers.
Faded pictures, warped pages, an occasional pressed mosquito or gnat embedded in the description of a duck or song bird. You would think that by the condition of my mother’s Birds of Alaska book she might know the birds by heart. But, no. The sorry state of her Birds of Alaska book was due to neglect. There were loons and ducks, robins and ravens. That was the extent of Mom’s bird identification. She was not that interested in figuring out which bird was which. But, wildflowers. They stayed put. She tried her best to transplant the wildflowers from the marsh surrounding her cabin to the yard at home. They just didn’t take. Nor did the little marigolds from home like the wet weedy soil around the cabin. I’ve never been much of a gardener. Too much time in one place. I’d rather keep my eyes and binoculars to the sky and trees scanning for birds. But this spring, Mom would be proud. I’m taking a wildflower class from the grande dames of Alaska wildflowers, Verna Pratt and Marilyn Barker. I’ll try to take my eyes from the sky.