For months I have been hearing tales of spring from the lower forty-eight, bright colors, intense blooms, vivid greens, while I looked at muddy piles of melting snow, matted down brown grass, and naked trees. But that is all changing, fast. According to the local Fairbanks newspaper, the Daily News Miner, we are finally joining the rest of the country in our little corner of Alaska.
Thursday, the National Weather Service announced that Fairbanks, AK had official entered “greenup.” Greenup is a new term for me so I will give you the definition listed in the newspaper: “Although somewhat subjective, greenup ‘is the rapid transformation of the landscape from brown to spring green as the leaves of deciduous trees burst forth,’ according to greenup guru Ted Fathauer, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.”
Most locals agree that greenup, aka spring, all happens within a matter of two weeks. Brown to green with the snap of your fingers, and from what I have seen so far they seem to be right. This weekend when we were driving to meet friends, I looked up at the tree line and realized it had changed. Instead of scratchy branches, the trees were peppered with lime green sprinkles that almost seemed to glow or sparkle in the evening light. Green. Actual green. It seems the only color I have seen, for months and months, is white. I hadn’t realized how hungry for color I was until I looked at those trees popping with buds of spring. It felt like getting a new box of crayons, all the points still sharp.
I am still skeptical that winter is really over, especially when I hear that in Denali National Park it has been snowing all week. Fresh inches piling up. But for now, I am embracing the green of greenup, like an oasis of color. Fingers crossed the color palate here in Alaska just keeps growing.
I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but it is beginning to feel like spring in Alaska! I know for most of the folks in the lower 48 our spring will seem, well, anticlimactic compared to yours. I can’t compete with 80s. But after a winter of cold, cold, cold, I am very happy to see a heat wave of high 30s. And sun, glorious sun.
The funny thing about “spring” in Alaska is how I have gotten so used to snow, I can hardly remember what the world looks like without it. In fact, at our new apartment, we have never even seen the yard, just piles of snow.
Spring in Alaska is also known as breakup. At first I thought breakup was only for coastal towns, but it seems, because of the amount of snow we have, pretty much everyplace experiences breakup to one degree or another. For us, here in Fairbanks, that means the melting of hard pack, the thick layer of snow at the base of the ground that has been there since late October. We are not to that point yet, everything is still very much snow covered and we only have little trickles of water making there way onto the roads, but I am told that it will all get a little messy before “summer” finally arrives.
On Monday, our landlord even broke out his monstrous backhoe (yes he owns this) to dig the hard pack out of our driveway. It was the last thing I expected to see swing into our driveway, but I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised. It was kind of fun to sit in the window and watch him dig up boulder-like chunks of snow. I didn’t even realize how deep it was until he started ripping it out. He told Lucas that if he hadn’t taken it out, once everything starts to melt, our car would never have made it out of the garage. He also seemed pretty proud of his “toy.”
But really, I am just excited to see another side of Alaska. The days are finally stretching out with day light, it is warm enough to be outside all day, and soon we will begin our whirlwind of plans for the spring/summer as we try and pack in as much “Alaska” as we can before we leave.