Tag Archives: Literature

Colorful Seasons in Alaska

There is nothing more beautiful than a wildflower, but what about them makes them so beautiful? Surely the details in them are often astounding. Long stamens, unique petals, or colorful flowers may dazzle the eyes. Alternatively, the beauty of a wildflower may be linked to its overall surrounding. We often find them perched in rocky crags, in front of mountain vistas, at the edge of our favorite pond, or along our favorite hiking trail. Each wildflower represents a detailed, wild beauty, and that beauty grows as you consider the ecosystem and ecology that surround them.

Wildflowers excel at telling us the progression of summer. In Alaska, one of the first wildflowers of spring, pasque flowers, spring up in large purple and yellow blossoms welcoming the queen bumble bees which have just woken up from a long winter. Similarly, the early blooms of purple mountain saxifrage provide a critical nectar resource for queen bees. However, the timing, or phenology, of wildflowers in Alaska is changing with a warming climate. Changing flower timing can effect insects populations, and in turn birds by growing at different times than they have for milleniums. An example that we (I believe) have all noticed is a quickly melting snowpack. As snowpack melts earlier it has repercussions on when a flower starts to grow and bloom by moving it earlier, and buds may freeze in the still cold temperatures (Inouye 2008). This changes the plant’s fitness and also the flowers available to pollinators.  Although the genes of plants may have enough flexibility accommodate some of the effects of climate change, they may need to evolve to ultimately survive (Anderson, Jill T., et al. 2012).

This summer I’ve turned my lens to all of the wildflower blooms I can. I am actually pretty astounded by the number of species I have photographed and learned! When photographing them I both put them in their surroundings, and captured the fine details of their beauty. Some of these images are availble for purchase through my Fine Art America gallery. I hope you enjoy this extensive collection of the colorful seasons of Alaska! Photos are featured in the month that I captured them, rather than when they first start blooming.

June

July

August

 

If you’ve made it this far then I want to let you know that these images are available in a single page as well with some images that are not featured in this post:

http://ianajohnson.com/wildflowers-of-alaska/

Identification Sources:

If you are looking for Alaskan wildflower identification I cannot say enough about the utility of these two sites:

http://www.turtlepuddle.org/alaskan/wild/flowers-1.html

http://www.alaskawildflowers.us/

USDA Plant Database http://plants.usda.gov/java/

Literature

Inouye, David W. “Effects of climate change on phenology, frost damage, and floral abundance of montane wildflowers.” Ecology 89.2 (2008): 353-362.

Anderson, Jill T., et al. “Phenotypic plasticity and adaptive evolution contribute to advancing flowering phenology in response to climate change.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 279.1743 (2012): 3843-3852.

Christmas Tradition

Merry Christmas!… and a happy New Year. It is Amazing that in 5 more days 2014 will be here, and we once again will mis-write the date on our checks as many times as it takes to break a habit – a debatable number.

I’ve had a busy last few weeks of the semester and am looking into the next one. With graduate level statistics and thesis development on the docket, it will be busy for sure.

Being home for Christmas and the Holidays has been a real treat, and this more even more than others, I’ve really felt blessed to be home and back in the tradition of Christmas. The house where I grew up is adorned with lights over the doors and windows and stockings on the Chimney. Every year after Thanksgiving my brother and I would haul box after box of Christmas decorations from the basement and place them up around the house. Two balsam fir Christmas trees, often harvested from the woods around Grand Rapids, Minnesota were put up. One of them ‘belonged’ to my brother and I; it was garnished with lights and personal ornaments collected through the years. The other tree was for my parents.

One of the decorations put up in the house is the ceramic village pieces which my mom hand-painted through the years. The pieces are set up as a village lit by LED lights and represent a quiet town or village. These pieces drew me, and for some reason I have never looked at them as closely as I did this year. The detail put into them upon close inspection brought them to life. The small eyes of carolers have pupils, the tiny window displays of toys are colorful and distinct, and each house is painted uniquely and ornately. I want to do some photography of this Christmas Village and thought the results were just fun to look at and full of life!

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The Boys pull a yule-log past the toy store in Christmas Village.
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A group of kids get pulled by their dog past the Doctors office in downtown Christmas Town.
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Carolers sing in front of the candy shop near the corner or “Ian/Sean” street – named for my brother and I.
A sleigh ride goes past the east end of town.
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Throughout Christmas town our family is built into the village. The focus of this image is meant to show off “Johnson’s” Craft shop. In the foreground a couple of shoppers hall gifts in front of the candy shop.
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In the Northeast corner of town, up on the hill, the church is lit up with the Nativity in front.
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For some reason school is still in session in Christmas town, and it’s all lit up.

After taking pictures of the village I couldn’t help but feel more connected to it. Taking pictures up and down the alleyways gave it life meaning. I have been looking at this village for more than 15 years without ever appreciating the Christmas tradition of it. Here’s a look at Christmas town from a distance, I hope I’ve given you some appreciation of it through these close-up shots of life in Christmas town.

Christmas town from a distance.
Christmas town from a distance.

Of course Christmas Tradition is also about a Christmas tree and family. Below is the tree this year and a group shot of my immediate family. If you have Christmas traditions and stories I’d love for you to post them below. This is the best time of year!

The Johnson Family 2013 family photo
The Johnson Family 2013 family photo
The Johnson Family Christmas tree tradition.
The Johnson Family Christmas tree tradition.