Weekly Update

Our cat, Monkey, out on a stroll through our trails

I’ve been searching for a way to share my latest life events, photos, and the stories behind them more regularly. While my previous attempts at a ‘photo of the day’ series proved unsustainable, I believe a weekly update might strike a better balance. I say weekly, but I fully expect posts to be irregular—like me.

Events this week have left me contemplative and moving slower than I usually do. I had planned on working on some wildflower guide posts this weekend, but I think I’ll get out and take photos instead. Whenever I try to write, I find myself distracted and lost in thought, so it’s probably not the time to work on technical writing.

On Wednesday, I had some luck stumbling up some orchids in the woods. It wasn’t really luck; I had some rough GPS coordinates and extra time after work. However, I was lucky with the timing because they don’t bloom for very long. It was only the second time I’ve encountered Calypso bulbosa, fairy slippers, in Alaska, and the first time photographing them.

Alaska has over 30 species of orchids, but this is probably the showiest, albeit tiny. I hope to photograph many more native orchids in the coming weeks, and I am making a travel plan and timing to do so.

The weather was so beautiful earlier this week that I let our cat, Monkey, go outside. Although Monkey is an indoor cat, she occasionally sneaks out when the door opens. Sometimes, we let her stay outside for a few minutes, but we’ve been cautious lately due to an owl we’ve frequently heard nearby this spring. When the weather is nice, her incessant pawing at the door and crying out is hard to resist (and incredibly annoying).

Typically, if we walk on the trails in the woods, she follows us and always stays close by. In that respect, she’s a much better companion than our dog.

Short-billed gulls harassing an Osprey at Wander Lake in Fairbanks Friday evening

Friday afternoon, I went out looking for flowers and found a few at home, but I definitely came across a wider variety of birds at Creamer’s Field and Wander Lake. A few flowers are starting to bloom along our road, and I got some perfect shots for the wildflower guide.



The pink flowers of Rubus arcticus, arctic blackberry, blooming on May 24, 2024
Male willow catkin with yellow anthers
The urn-shaped flowers of Chamaedaphne calyculata, leatherleaf, on May 24, 2024
Another male willow catkin with reddish anthers and still fuzzy
A close-up of the inflorescence of Petasites frigidus, arctic sweet coltsfoot, on May 24, 2024
A water drop caught in the budding leaves of a horsetail

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The time outside was needed. For the last few days, I’ve been too stuck in my thoughts to be stuck behind the computer writing the wildflower guides. It felt great to smell the spring air after the rain.

Birch reflections along the Seasonal Wetlands Pond at Creamer’s Field
American wigeons at Creamer’s on May 24, 2024

After walking through most of the trails at Creamer’s, I wandered over to Wander Lake. Numerous red-necked grebes were floating far out in the lake. I sat for about 20 minutes, hoping some would come close enough to get a decent photo. Cat met up with me here after work, and we walked the lake’s perimeter along the trail.

On the east side of the trail, we were startled by some very noisy grebes along the shore. Near the bird blind where the gulls nest, an Osprey flew overhead, chased by about five short-billed (mew) gulls (photo above).

Weekly Update
Red-necked grebes in Wander Lake at the Wedgwood Wildlife Sanctuary on May 24, 2025
I believe this is a solitary sandpiper at Creamer’s Field. It looks very similar to lesser yellow legs, but the head coloration is slightly different, and the legs are more olive-colored.
I believe this to be a pectoral sandpiper
Sandhill Crane at Creamer’s Field on May 22, 2024

As we transition into the warmer months, these weekly glimpses remind me how quickly the season unfolds. Each week brings new discoveries, whether it’s the fleeting beauty of orchids or the vibrant activity of our local birds. It’s a dynamic canvas that inspires and intrigues me, regardless of how often I explore these trails. I hope these snapshots encourage you also to pause and appreciate the subtle yet profound shifts in our surroundings. Stay tuned for more updates and explorations next week, and thank you for joining me on this journey through the Alaskan spring.

If you want to see more photos, check out the galleries below.

Monkey the cat wandering the trails – May 20, 2024

Orchids and Sandhill Cranes – May 22, 2024

Wildflowers and Birds – May 24, 2024

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