The Most Wonder-Full Time of the Year

By , April 28, 2011

A certain phrase from a popular Christmas song has been going through my head lately. As much as I love Christmas, I have to say that here in our part of Alaska, this is “the most wonderful time of the year,” at least if you’re willing to use “wonderful” in the archaic sense: full of wonder.

This is always a wonderful place, but those wonders kick into overdrive at the end of April and beginning of May.

The herring run has paused. We seem to have fished the first wave. I assume more will come, although it’s hard to tell. We’d been mystified by the lack of whales, until we heard that the eulachon (“hooligan”) are running in the inlets, so we imagine they’re up there with the majority of our resident sea lions and almost every sea bird in the region. Yesterday, we started seeing whales again, as well as loons. That may mean their focus is shifting to the herring now. Soon the noisy gangs of sea lions will be back.

The first hummingbird of the season arrived on the homestead just after lunch yesterday. We’d filled our hummingbird feeders and hung them on Easter, guessing that they’d start arriving soon. We’re always glad to see them, but this year we were especially looking forward to their hunger for mosquitoes, which have been a bit thick so far.

But even the mosquito offers wonder. Aly, who reads and retains everything, informs us that mosquitoes don’t need human blood to reproduce, but they can vastly multiply their egg output if they get some. It’s amazing how willing they are to risk death for that extra reproductive boost. As much as I dislike mosquitoes, I have to admit to their beauty, and grudgingly admire their tenacity, if nothing else.

We’re hearing a new songbird arrival almost every day. Plants are leafing out, buds are swelling, shoots are shooting. The days grow longer and warmer, we’re spending more and more time outdoors. It feels good. It’s just hard to know what to do, where to look, what to focus upon. The wonders are everywhere. Sorry if I put a holiday ear worm in your head, but it really is “the most wonderful time of the year!”


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