Summer mania begins

The last remains of winter ice along the Deshka River.

Dear resuming reader,

I have been remiss in writing to you this past week. But I have an excuse — we have officially entered the manic summer season in Alaska when we try to squeeze as much work/fun/family into every daylight hour.

I say “summer season” but really this is only applicable in terms of the increasing length of each day: currently sunrise is at 5 a.m. and sunset at nearly 11 p.m. In terms of summer weather, not so much. A hail storm yesterday afternoon turned into a snow squall. But we have not let the chill deter us.

We spent the first weekend of May in our riverboat. This is the earliest we’ve been out on the rivers; the ice broke up nearly a week before it usually does.

An arctic tern skims above the river in search of salmon smolt.

Beaver and muskrats swam along the shore; Arctic terns dipped and dove in aerobatics over the water as they fished for salmon smolt in the early morning; sandhill cranes, scaup ducks, mergansers, mallards, and buffleheads flew along the river and landed in the back sloughs; frogs uttered their first croaks of the season. At night, we sat beside a campfire and ate s’mores.

Also in true Alaska summer tradition, visitors have begun to arrive. My grandparents from Buffalo, NY, came for about a week, and then my uncle.

A sandhill crane flies overhead.

Soon, my husband’s family arrives, just in time to go fishing for king salmon. One of the downsides of living in Alaska is having extended family so far away. But these weeks have been the perfect antidote.

I have also been pursuing my new career as a published author. During the past weeks, I’ve visited libraries, schools, and book clubs to talk about The Snow Child, and a few days ago I had a signing event at the Flying Squirrel, a bakery cafe in Talkeetna, Alaska, where I ate the most scrumptious cauliflower macaroni & cheese and had a delightful conversation about books with the group of readers who attended.

And then, as if we haven’t tried to cram enough into our days, we have also been tackling lots of projects around our house. This weekend Sam and I built a small greenhouse so we can grow tomatoes, cucumbers and basil this summer. We hauled, split and stacked wood to try to replenish our wood shed. And I’m in the middle extending our garden and putting up new fencing around it. Hopefully by the end of the month, the snow squalls will have halted entirely, and we’ll be able to plant our garden with carrots, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and lettuce.

So if another week goes by without a letter from me, know that I am only knee-deep in summer. But I am thinking of you.

What are your plans for the coming season?



Spruce forest is reflected in a back slough of the Deshka River a week ago.


  • gaylelin says:

    I’m one of those family members from far away who will invade your part of the country. I’m planning to visit my daughter in Fairbanks in July.
    Nice post; take your time and get all the outdoor activities you can while the time is right.

  • The list is endless, but then ………… I just remembered, I’m retired! I think I’ll go get lost in a book, grab a few winks, wait for the waters to warm up and then go fishin’! But then there’s the garden to plant, apple trees to move inside the garden fence away from the munching mouths of moose, a carport/woodshed to build, truck loads of shale to get, a week of Kasilof salmon gill netting (gotta be pumped about that) and then a wing ding August wedding, but I got my suit and cowboy boots so I’m ready for that. Heck, it’s 2PM, time to contemplate it all on the couch.

  • Holly Schwartz says:

    Love all of your photos. It’s mid-spring here in Kentucky. My daughter and I are bird-watchers and star-gazers. I enjoy learning about Alaska and it’s different birds and climate. Good luck with all of your author events. Sounds like fun.

  • Ann DeSalvo says:

    I will be arriving in Wasilla in late June to be with my son and his busy family. If you are still at bookstore maybe I will see you. I am sure I will be in Palmer several times. I hope to be fishing at least once in my 21/2 week stay.

  • Charlotte (Charlie) Sartor says:

    Great to have you at book club tonight. Enjoy your blog too. Yup – into the busy days of summer – yard work and garden prep, plus birding

  • sardav64 says:

    summer sounds busy but a lot of fun in Alaska

  • Mark Bryant says:

    Love the pictures. Now I know why Jim loved it so.

  • Love your blog and the window into your world. I’ll be returning to Alaska in July and among other things, doing a presentation at the Valdez Museum. The historians are very interested in my recent book, “‘A’ is for Alaska: Teacher to the Territory” since it is about our family friend, Anna Bortel, who drove up the Alcan in 1954 and taught until 1957. The Alaska men and women were rugged pioneers — back then — and from what I’m learning about you — they still are!

  • Carolyn Redl says:

    For years, I’ve been collecting Arctic stories, primarily memoirs and autobiographies; comments on your novel have me hyped to read it. What a thrill to see it prompt a ripple of creativity. I wish I could be there to experience the upcoming magic, but recall one year sitting beside the river at the campground in Fairbanks with 2 a.m. light. Your southern visitors are very fortunate to have you in the north so they can experience the wonders of the midnight sun.