Balsam Poplar

northern exposures

Daytime temperatures: 60’s F. Sunny and warm!

We now have 19 hours 21 minutes of visible daylight according to the weather gurus, but the way I measure it we have a bit more. There is no more snow on the roads; most are dry and dusty. The long sunny days and even longer twilight periods are here, and the insects have taken notice. Flies are out and about, a few mosquitoes already are pestering us and my students have found little worms in pine cones. Jimmy discovered the worms. Wish you were here, Nia, I know you would enjoy our nature walks and would be recording everything with your camera. And Irena, green is beginning to enter our world; I saw mosses yesterday, and little dusty green ground coverings. Mom, you and Christie would love walking our streets now, the weather is perfect and 6o degrees here feels more like 70 back home. You can walk all day in short sleeves and feel great.

The balsam poplar is the northernmost hardwood on the continent and it can be found much farther north than here, even along the Brooks range, if the books are right. I like their bark which is peculiarly marked with black warts and interesting wedge shaped “cuts”. They grow in wet soil along the banks of the sloughs, sharing space with the willows. They are not as plentiful as our white spruce and willows, though. The balsam poplar is closely related to the cottonwood and is sometimes mistaken for it. Many villagers claim that we have black cottonwood here, but the books say that we have only the poplar. Both are related to the quaking aspen and the birch.

The dogs are barking in the evenings again. I don’t know why this is, but in spring and summer I can hear them all over town, several entire choruses at once all coming from different directions. I hear them now. Back in Texas a barking dog would have driven me crazy, but here it is a sort of music that I like very much. Perhaps they are barking at their evening meal.

This is our home, but as the days count down to May 25, we become more and more eager to see our family again. To everybody down south, we can’t wait to see you!


11 thoughts on “Balsam Poplar

      1. No complaints from this side too Dave. It’s cold here but well, it’s Autumn..LOL! I just miss my morning swims but it’s okay, one of these days it will be Spring again..then Summer..and then I can enjoy it again. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Hope you are well too my friend. Take care and enjoy! *hugs*

  1. I am so glad to hear that you are in sunny days now… You can guess dear Dave, how I read your expressions… This is so exciting for me. As if I can see everything what you described and told… About my camera you are right, I can die for this… But but but the way is too long for me… I talk always about this journey to my husband… This is really great adventure for me… Fogo Island, Himalayas and Alaska… Not easy journeys at least for me. Thank you so much dear Dave, your every post is a page of my precious Alaska Book… I can imagine and also I can understand you how you miss your homeland and your family too… I wish you to have a nice meeting and holiday. Do you know what I notice or what made me to think… In Alaska with her hard and long winter days, everything seems much more meaningful and precious than in the other parts of the world, at least for me… Everything seems so ordinary and we can easily forget the things in the city. But in there, everything has a meaningful touches… Maybe this makes Alaska so great that I dream always… Nature world but not capitulated to the human world (sorry if I used a wrong word, but I can’t find the exact one) and Human world standing not capitulated but living according to the natural world… This is the harmony…. And also this should be the only example in the world for the relationship between nature and human world… Once again sorry if I couldn’t express well dear Dave. Just I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with you… with you all. Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    1. I do understand you, Nia, and I too am constantly thinking about how meaningful things are here. I took for granted so much when I lived in the city. Here, I appreciate more. I see what you mean by harmony between the natural world and the human one. Yes, nature has not capitulated to man (and what a good word, Nia!). And man finds his ways to live in harmony with it.

      It is true, though, that nature here is struggling and losing much of the time to the encroachment of man. Global warming is real, very real, and changing the water quality of the Yukon and the health of the salmon. Once thriving flora is dying out because of temperature changes, and that in turn causes animal populations to shift. All this impacts our subsistence families in ways that city dwellers do not understand. The only way to grasp the import of these changes is to think of something that would radically change the lives of everybody where you live and threaten the ability of people to support their families with food. Think of the alarm that would go up if everybody in Istanbul learned that undersea vents in the Sea of Marmara were dumping so much poisonous contaminants into the water that all sea live would die in 50 years. That Arctic is a fragile world and global warming threatens the very life of the people who live here.

  2. Nice poplar, David! We have som poplars here too, I also know this, but none are native trees. About the sound of spring; is it only barking dogs, no birds? There are so many birds singing in the woods around here now, you can hardly believe it…

    1. Oh, yes. The ravens are cawing and the sparrows are chattering. It is hard for me to see the birds, maybe because of the heavy foliage in the spruce, but I hear them. I want to do some bird watching.

    1. I know what you mean. Lately I have gotten so far behind in my work and studies that I feel guilty spending five minutes writing or answering comments. But 22 days from now things will start to even out for us.

  3. dave, may 25? is that the day you and lindsay will be arriving back in texas? or is that the day that school lets out and ya’ll can begin preparing for the trip? we’re so looking forward to ya’ll coming!

    1. School is out May 18. The 25th is a guess as we have delayed tickets until we know whether we are stopping in San Diego first. But it’s soon!

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