26 May 2007 Paul @ 7x7

Lining up the shot
For the last few years, we've rafted a short stretch of the Susitna River with Talkeetna friends on Memorial Day weekend. For some of us, the weekend has been the start of the summer, which doesn't change life that much for most of us working people. But many of our Talkeetna friends are school teachers. A change in school schedules in Alaska meant that this weekend is now the end of the school year, and the start of 8 weeks off, for several of our friends. And this year Paul's birthday occurred during the trip. So despite some soggy, cool weather, spirits were high on a Susitna River gravel bar this past Friday and Saturday.
Primary activities on this raft trip include sitting around the campfire talking, eating, sleeping, and playing bocce. Bocce is an old Italian game of bowling colored balls as close to the small white palino as possible. I'm not sure how challenging this is on a grass court, but as you can see, it can be very challenging on an island in the middle of an Alaska river.
Whoever has won the previous round gets to throw the palino. In this round of bocce, the palino landed against a log (center of photo one-third from bottom) above a puddle under a massive log jam. The players throwing bocce balls from above couldn't see the palino so needed some direction. Paul is giving his partner Doug a line to throw on to try to reach the palino. The large red ball next to the palino is Doug's from his previous throw. I think Paul and Doug won this round, but because Paul was the only one wearing rubber boots, he had to wade into the puddle to retrieve several bocce balls.

23 May 2007 Spring babies

The end of May in our neighborhood usually means the advent of moose calves. This neighborhood of large lots near a large municipal park and a state park offers some security from bears and other predators, some browse, and minimal distance from people. For several years, a cow moose gave birth in our backyard. The cow in this photo, a regular here for many years, birthed her twins in the backyard across the street from us about a week before I took this photo in our backyard.

Less than two weeks before these little guys were born, on May 7th, my nephew Ryan Slusher entered the world. Congratulations to Darrin and Denise and blessings to their family in their life together!

SAD UPDATE ON THE CALVES 6/1/07: My neighbor called the other evening to tell me that a brown (grizzly) bear killed both calves just a couple of blocks away. Maybe this area isn't a safe
haven for moose after all. Many bears have been sighted in this part of the city in the last few weeks. I saw a black bear with 3 cubs while riding through the park on Wednesday evening. Anchorage's new slogan is BIG WILD LIFE -- looks like the wildlife is cooperating with that theme.

6 & 13 May 2007 Stalled Spring

new birch buds Sunday May 6

Some years, spring happens in a day here in Alaska. We've driven up the Parks Highway to barren trees on a Saturday; returned on Sunday to bright green leaves on most of the trees. That's how we thought it would be last weekend. Bright green buds on the birch trees seemed ready to burst under sunny skies.

But temperatures here in Anchorage have remained cool this last week with clouds most days. The temperature has barely topped 45. After a sunny Saturday morning and a high of 50, the leaves on our birch trees are finally starting to open up.

emerging birch leaves & stamen Sunday May 13