Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ahhhh...the smell of skunk cabbage!

Sometimes winter just seems to hang on for so long. Spring time, oh how we covet the...

When the sun finally shines in Ketchikan, after a long, dark, and cold winter we respond with vigor. People drop everything and go outside. We celebrate the warmth on our back, and welcome our shadows return from hibernation. Plans will change in an instant. Dishes will be left in the sink, laundry left on the floor. Teachers will hold class outside, and give extra recess. Kids are happy. Strangers smile. Priority always goes to the sunny side of the street. Nature wakes up, and shakes off the rain, like a wet dog ready to bound into summer.

One of my favorite ways to commemorate this change of season is to go for a hike on Pennock. On a beautiful morning of sunshine I am witness to the expounding energy of the sun. I am fortified with the knowledge that Spring is here at last.

My eyes are filled with fresh new colors. Bright greens burst forth from the alder, and salmon berry buds, spruce tips glow, and fern fronds unfold. In a blink of an eye, The Island is transformed from a dark, winter forest of dead sticks to a thick lush rainforest.  

My ears hear the cacophony of birds rejoicing. Shore birds have returned to their nesting grounds. They call to one another; "Herb how have you been?" The raucous Blue Jay reports the found treasure trove of last summer.  The chick a dee, junco, and robin sing and scratch up the seeds and worms as they dance under the new foliage. The eagles screech; are they arguing about who is to be on which branch, or explaining to their yearlings how to fly.  

Nothing can compare though, to the distinct aroma of the skunk cabbage; the earthy quality wafts towards me across the bog. It meets my nose, before the bright yellow crowns peaking up through the bogs and marshes meet my sight. It resembles the pungent smell of the skunk it is named for, but does not pierce the nose as sharply. The oder let's room in for the fragrant smell of the damp evaporating off the moss.  Of all things, the perfume of the skunk cabbage, is the reassuring testament that Spring has won her battle and that winter has lost. 


  1. Everywhere I've lived there has been a different smell of spring, and I have found that skunk cabbage does define it for Ketchikan! My kids love it...mostly because it was the first flower that showed on our early spring hiking. Thank goodness for some sun!

  2. i love this picture, and your writing. I dearly love South East Alaska, and the skunk cabbage too. Now I miss the smell....far away. Thank you for your wonderful posts and pictures. I wonder how you are doing today?