Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve, 2011

Christmas Eve Treat

I arose early Christmas Eve morning to put some cinnamon rolls out to rise (since I had forgotten to put them out in the refrigerator to thaw the night before). Whenever we get up the in dark during the winter, we have looked out the windows to see if we can spot the Northern Lights. On my way back to bed I stopped by the bedroom which faces the Talkeetna Mountains to look, and THERE THEY WERE!!!! I hurried in and woke Doug and we went from one bedroom to the next looking out the windows. We could see the red, pink and green glow on the horizon in a 270* arc. They were not the large, dancing curtains which you see in photographs, or the ghostly swirls. They were just glowing area that grew brighter and then faded and changed locations on the horizon. After watching for just a few minutes we decided to get dressed and drive to a nearby hill to see if we could get a better view (the Schwabenhauf hill, for those of you who have visited us). We were at the hill in about 10 minutes. The reds had faded, and the greens were a little less. But we sat and watched them for another 20 minutes. Also, the range had diminished. We could only see them in one direction. As we sat facing the Lights, we could see an ice fog creeping up on us from the rear. It was still quite dark, but there were lots of highway and street lights that got fuzzier until they disappeared in the fog. Several hours after the fog passed the trees were beautiful, covered in a thick frost.

Sorry, I have no pictures of the lights.
A photo taken with our small cameras could not do them justice.
I do have a website, sent to me by a friend, that explains the phenomena of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. What we have learned is that we should not just look to the north. They occur in any direction around us.


Later in the day we drove a little north of our house to scout a skiing trail that we had read about. We have a lot of snow at our house, but there was a LOT of snow just 20 minutes away from our house. The elevation is higher and the temperature was about 15* colder than at our house too.

Note the snow on the power lines


These pictures were taken from our house in late November. These are the mountains we can see from 3 separate sides of our house. For those of you who have visited, I have included the location from which the photo was taken, because the first one is the only view you can see in the summer. We can only see the other mountains once the leaves are off the trees.

Talkeetna Mountains
(photo taken from bedroom at the end of the upstairs hallway)

Chugach Mountains
(photo taken from our bedroom window, looking to your left)

Chugach Mountains
(photo taken from our bedroom window, looking to your left)

Pioneer Peak in the Chugach Mountains
(photo taken from our bedroom window, looking to your right)

Chugach Mountains
(photo taken from our bedroom window, looking straight ahead, toward Palmer)
You can see the fog which follows the Matanuska River in the picture - at the top of the tree line and the base of the mountains. The tall peak is Matanuska.

Feeding the Birds

The birds have been regular visitors to our bird feeders again this winter since they discovered them. We have had red polls, nuthatches and chickadees. We have also have had a downy woodpecker. It is a very large bird and none of the other birds will come to eat when it is at the feeder. It is a very messy, particular eater. It flips a lot of feed out fo the feeder, so we shoo it away when we see it. One day it caught a red poll on the porch, after the red poll had hit our patio door. When I approached the door, the woodpecker flew away with the unconscious red poll in it's grasp.

The feeder is mounted on the feeder right outside our patio door. I took these pictures from just inside the door. We also have a hanging feeder and a shelf for the squirrels on a tree about 20' from the house. Some days there are 50-60 birds. It is fun to watch them that close.



Chickadee & red poll