Courtesy of our friends in Alaska as we continue the waning of the seasons....
"One month ago, I sat still against a gathered mass of dead cattails that was one of a dozen lining the north shore of a shallow pond. Ice formed where sticks and bits of earth rested on the surface of the still water. The early morning light made it look like dust on a camera lens, and I could see my breath exhale across the water: the lens fogging and clearing as I, duck hunter, waited for migrants to lower their flight over the cattails.
This was the first morning I’d really noticed the cold and realized that it was a day for hats and gloves, and probably a warm drink to punctuate some morning or nighttime hour. I was at the very bottom of Goldstream Valley, which bounds Fairbanks to the north and wanders southwest along the base of the hills until it joins with the rest of the Tanana Valley. Everyone likes to talk about the Goldstream and how cold it often is, as the coldest of the heavy winter air tends to settle in its low spots and remain there even as spring comes to the rest of the Interior.
Someone told me that, for this reason, Natives and miners used to call the valley a name that meant the place where the cold begins. Whether their intended interpretation was to mean where the cold begins each year or to identify the origin of all the world’s cold I do not know, but the former is undeniable and the latter certainly plausible.
As I wandered out of the valley, the day warmed and I forgot about silly notions like hats and gloves. The sun was out and bright against the yellow birches, and the fall seemed unending, as seasons so often do. Sure enough though, two weeks later ice began to rim and thicken against sticks resting in puddles across the rest of Fairbanks.
Winter was born on a duck pond in the Goldstream this year, and has since spread up through the valley and into the hills, and will rest on our doorsteps until the warmth returns next April."