It happens every year. When winter finally decides to give up for a few months and the days actually get a bit warmer, you start to see leaf buds forming on the skeletal branches of birches and cottonwoods. At first you have to look closely to notice any real difference, but then—usually about the third week of May in Southcentral Alaska—the transformation occurs. At first all you see is a thin wash of bright chartreuse from the tiny unfolding leaves and then within three or four days the whole countryside is green again. It’s summer, or at least non-winter.
The change came late this year—a couple of weeks or so—following an unusual snowfall in Anchorage on May 18th that nailed a record for the “longest winter” (from first snowfall to the last). But it’s happened, and the season is now in full swing.