Fireweed grows in abundance in Alaska.
Following a devastating forest fire, this brave plant is the first to regrow,
an encouraging green among the charred destruction.
Fireweed is also the predictor of the cherished summer season
As summer days begin, the firewood puts out its first buds
along the tall and slender stalk.
And as the long, sun filled days continue, the buds open into blossoms,
beginning at the base of the stem and working their way upward.
Fairbanksans relish the long days of summer, playing and gardening while
soaking up this generous time of warmth and daylight.
But if one looks closely at these hearty people, sly and furtive glances
toward the tell-tale stem can be noted.
All too soon the blossoms appear on the very top only,
the withered leaves below turning into showy reds and dark pinks.
Alas, the flowers disappear completely.
About the same time the aspen and birch leaves are golden yellow
and the hills and roadsides are warmed by the colors.
Yes, summer is over.
Autumn, brief as it is, takes its place.
And the wildlife fill up on the fireweed stalks, fattening up for the
bitter, snowy days that are just around the corner.
(This moose is at exactly the same patch that Shoeless Joe is sitting in above.)
And we snowbirds pack up the car to begin the long trip southward.