Bees, races and wild orchids: Springtime in Kodiak, Alaska

Spring doesn’t arrive in Alaska, it splashes, blooms, buzzes and erupts. Let me describe it in pictures for you…

I’m fascinated and humbled by bumblebees; their ability to survive the winter and get out and about in cold, wet conditions never ceases to amaze me. These are no couch potato insects! (I will share more about bees in a future post.) Meanwhile, meet Bombus lucorum a large, white-tailed bumblebee that is found from Alaska to the Mediterranean. I rescued him (yes, he’s a male worker bee) from a bucket of water in the greenhouse. He crawled right onto my finger, probably attracted to the warmth, and proceeded to clean and dry himself off. Okay, I’ve never held a bee in my hand (on purpose) so I was nervous at first. But I picked up my 10x magnifying loupe and just watched…

Bumblebee, bee, pollinator, Bombus lucorum, white-tailed, Alaska, Kodiak

Bumblebee, Bombus lucorum (I think). [Marion Owen photo]

Now we’re off to the races, survival suit races, that is…

Racers splash their way to the finish line (a life raft) during the Norm Holm Memorial Survival Suit Race, held each Memorial Day weekend during our annual Kodiak Crab Festival. It’s serious fun in this popular event which began in 1980 to educate the public about cold water survival and the need for survival suits (and how to use them). The race consists of teams with 4 members of any age or gender. This represents the average number of crew on a fishing vessel.

How it works: When the whistle blows, the timer starts. The team run 50 yards, shakes the suits out of the bags, dons the suits, leaves their shoes on or jams them in their suit, zip all the way up and are cleared by a “zipper checker.” Then they swim 50 yards to a life raft. The timing stops when all four members are in the raft. This takes about three minutes. The winning time for the past few years has been around 1:20 minutes.

Survival Suit Race, Crab Festival, Kodiak, Alaska, fishing, boats, harbor

Survival Suite race during Crab Festival in Kodiak, Alaska [Marion Owen photo]

Kodiak, Alaska, island, Pillar, Mountain, city, harbor, islands

View of downtown Kodiak, Alaska (and my husband’s back) from atop Pillar Mountain. In spring, the surrounding hills and islands green up very quickly. [Marion Owen photo]

When rose orchids (Dactylorhiza aristata for you flora buffs) are blooming in our coastal meadows I grab my macro lens and go for photo-hikes. We have about 9 wild orchids on Kodiak Island, including spotted lady’s slippers. The stacks of individual orchids presents quite a depth-of-field challenge and though photographers may flock to it, deer (thankfully) do not for it’s poisonous.

Wild orchids, orchids, Dactylorhiza aristata, rose orchid, Kodiak Island, photograph, macro, camera, lens, depth of field, stacking, Helicon Focus, purple, spotted, leaf

For this final image you see here, I combined 9 separate exposures using Helicon Focus software..

fishing, commercial, Alaska, Kodiak Island, Kodiak, weather, salmon, seiners, Gulf of Alaska, boats, harbors, southwest, south-central, pigeons

Pigeons pick up seeds while commercial fishermen pick up the pace in the race to gear up for the opening of this year’s salmon season. Lots of activity on the docks as skippers and crew mend nets, double check engines, and all the while, keep their eye on the weather forecasts. [Marion Owen photo]

Spring also means trying to lose unwanted weight gained over the winter. Following the diet outlined in the BBC documentary, Eat, Fast and Live Longer, Marty and I have lost 14 pounds each. Pictured here: venison, black and brown rice, roasted pears, fresh tomato (a BIG deal here) and an amethyst radish from the garden.

garden, greens, organic, sustainable, venison, Kodiak, Alaska, Eat, Fast, Live, Longer

As Arnold Lobel once said, “All’s well that ends with a good meal.”

This entry was posted in Kodiak Island, Alaska, Organic gardening, Photography, Travel, Where curiosity leads me and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bees, races and wild orchids: Springtime in Kodiak, Alaska

  1. K.P. says:

    Marion, This newsletter is one of your best! Thanks for all the great information…


    >________________________________ > From: Lagniappe >To: >Sent: Thursday, June 6, 2013 11:32 AM >Subject: [New post] Bees, races and wild orchids: Springtime in Kodiak, Alaska > > > > >marionowen posted: “Spring doesn’t arrive in Alaska, it splashes, blooms, buzzes and erupts. Let me describe it in pictures for you… I’m fascinated and humbled bumblebees; their ability to survive the winter and get out and about in cold, wet conditions never ceases to ” >

  2. Norm Bauer says:

    Thank you for these newsletters. I really like the photo of Kodiak and the islands. I’m getting my Kodiak ‘fix’ thru your posts.
    Norm B (formerly Eng crew of the Oscar Dyson , WTEP)

    • marionowen says:

      You’re welcome, Norm. I used to work on the Oceanographer and the Miller Freeman… and I was also good friends with Oscar Dyson. Peggy Dyson is one of my best friends. Cheers, Marion

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