"Check it out!" An excited voice echoes up the trail, mixing with the fluttering whisper of aspen leaves and the raucous call of a distant raven.
On a recent winter's night one of our Refuge biologists out doing owl surveys in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area witnessed a convoy of cars heading down the icy road. These visitors weren't headed to a special ice fishing trip or campout.
Spring has finally sprung here on the Kenai Peninsula. Even though we saw snowfall as recently as last week, the sun's warmth has melted the tall berms into jagged shards then into deep muddy puddles.
It is cold outside. The wind blowing across the lake brings this cold into my coat, up the sleeves, under the hood and I am thankful, a little bit. I am leading a snowshoe hike on the Kenai Refuge's Visitor Center trail system and with 15 eager middle-schoolers in line behind me, our pace is brisk. I welcome the chilled air on my exercise-heated skin, at least until we stop for some games out on Headquarters Lake.
Having the opportunity to become a park ranger for the summer at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has been a truly unique experience. Talking one-on-one with fellow Alaskans as well as visitors hailing from Germany to Georgia, and everywhere in between, has been incredibly informative. One of the many benefits of being a "park ranger" has been the chance to stretch out my legs in the field and hone the art of flora and fauna identification, while patrolling the campgrounds or removing abandoned fish carcasses.
It's the time of year when we are pulling out the warm winter blankets and changing over to studded tires on our vehicles. The chill in the air and leaves on the ground are easy reminders that we should be preparing for winter. Today as I was driving to work, a black figure above a lamp post caught my eye. A common raven, noticeable against the gray sky, took off from the post and flapped into the brisk wind, gaining altitude, and then glided down towards the trees. Then, like an acrobatic pilot during an air show, this talented bird flipped upside down in flight, wings outstretched, until flipping back upright. He did this several more times while I was stopped at the Bridge Access traffic light, and I became an unintended audience to a much practiced aeronautical feat. Have you ever been treated to a raven's in-flight gymnastics? It can be quite a show!
Are you reading this article at your dining room table? A booth at a local restaurant? Your desk? Wherever you might be, pause, take one moment, if you will, to look out a window. Spend enough time to shift that look from a glance to a gaze and really see what is outside. Do you see any wildlife? What does the sky look like today?
April 21, 1991 I drove onto the Kenai Peninsula for the first time.
On a crisp October evening several people shuffled into the Blazy Mall's Kenai Yoga studio to sweat it out.
What season do you consider the best time to try something new? I always think of the endless possibilities of summer. It wasn't until this past December that I started seriously checking out the winter pursuits available here on the Kenai Peninsula.
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