The Autumn Journal - Change of Seasons in Southcentral Alaska
September 19 | September 28 | October 3 | October 14 | [October 17 | November 2

September 19, 1997
Glowing birch leaves rustle and whisper in the tree tops, suggesting breezes aloft. Late afternoon sun filters golden through broken clouds and the yellowing birch canopy. A squirrel in the thicket behind me scolds
AudioItem in a tick - tick - tick rhythm. Fireweed's long narrow leaves drape browned and dried or with the last yellows and reds of summer. Insect chewed portholes gape. Shiny red highbush cranberries perch in bunches of three or four on leafless twigs. The many-branched equisetum stems lie nearly flat, bleached pale and lifeless. Prickly evergreen spruce branches trap yellowed birch leaf confetti. The narrow foot trail is littered with fallen leaves. Some giant cow parsnip leaves still maintain structure though coloring is mottled. They succumb to the barest hint of frost, brown draped ghosts flutter from woody cow parsnip stalks.

September 28, 1997
It rained all day here yesterday and today the mountains to the east, Matanuska Peak (called Byers Peak by many people) and Lazy Mountain, are painted a stunning white. "Termination Dust" is Autumn's reminder that winter is fast approaching. Autumn's golden highlights flank the slopes below.

October 3, 1997
Well, hard freezes are a matter of magnitude. Yesterday evening the temperature reached the mid-30's (farenheit) and was dropping. Two days after the new moon, the night sky was a star-splashed black canvas. The lack of clouds and winds let the temperature hover at 20o to 22o F. all night. In this morning's pre-dawn twilight, a silvery velvet carpet covers the grass and trees. The cosmos, sunflowers and stocks which had continued blooming through September's light frosts are truly blackened and dead.

October 14, 1997
Odd regional weather--the Matanuska blew all day, a dirty, gray day. Couldn't see any of the mountains.I kept watch for a flake of snow. Nada. Just dirt. The "gray" falling out of the air was glacial silt swept up from the Matanuska River Valley by the regional winds. Automobiles driving the paved roads kicked up dusty rooster tails as if they were on a dirt road. However, only two or three miles "as the crow flies" to the south, the first autumn snow storm blanketed the earth.

October 17, 1997
The unseasonable and somewhat chaotic weather continues. Early this morning the temperature hovered around 2o F. Anchorage, 45 miles south, had 17o F., the waning cycle of the Fall moon and very clear skies.

November 2, 1997
Autumn is only a distant memory. Still not much snow, about an inch, but it's cold, windy, and not a hint of color. The best color you might see in a day is the sunrise or sunset.

A couple days ago we had a foggy mist that froze into bumpy ice on contact with any solid object. Weather that brings nighmares to mariners and airline pilots. By about 4:30 p.m. it was clearing far to the southwest but fog piled in layers over near-by tree tops. Flaming rays from the sun, which glowed huge above an invisible horizon, fanned through the local fog and mist. Orange flames from a perfect trompe d'oleil conflagration.

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Copyright 1997-2014 Katie Eberhart.
This page last updated January 25, 2014