Break Up in Alaska

Not quite spring here in Alaska, but we are having break up. That’s the time of year when the snow and ice melts. It can be quite a sight, especially on the rivers where huge blocks of ice break up and create havoc as they go downstream. In the early days of Fairbanks, break up on the Chena River would wipe out the bridge every year. The residents would just watch the shards of wood go downstream and build a new one.

Here in Southcentral Alaska, it’s not so exciting, just weeks of slush and puddles on the roads. There’s still snow in people’s yards–some people get sick of it and plow it into the driveways or the street to make it melt faster. The ice is gone from the parking lots, but the puddles make it permissible to wear rubber Xtra-Tuf boots with casual clothes. (Of course most of us only wear dressy clothes to office work or special events, anyway. Even then, you’ll see t-shirts and jeans at the nicest restaurants and concerts. High fashion is not a priority for most Alaskans.)

This is the time of year when we dream of summer, discuss where we want to go fishing or camping, and plan our gardens. I’ve already decided what plants I’ll buy at the local greenhouse in a few weeks, and my husband is planning the mini-greenhouse he’ll build for our tomato plants. (It’s too cold to plant tomatoes outside without some protection.) The seagulls are starting to supplant our town ravens. Although I’m sorry to see fewer ravens, it’s another sign of spring. Summer is coming, even if it’ll take a while before it gets here.

Hope you have bright visions for your next season. Do you have spring where you live?

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I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.


  • Tiffinie Helmer

    I miss break up. I grew up in Fairbanks and it was light someone flipped the switch on a light. One day it’s winter, then break up, a week later summer. Leaves pop out of their bubs in an afternoon. I now spend 9 months of the year in Utah and the spring is hell. It drags on for 4 months. We just had snow May 1st. I’d rather someone flipped the switch.

  • DeNise

    I’ve come to think break-up is my least favorite time of year. It’s only saving grace is the light-oh, thank the gods-the light is back. This year ARGH-I fear we won’t get leaves until July 4th. Usually, Mothers Day everything pops green. Great post to help us vent 🙂

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