“When it’s springtime in Alaska…”

“…it’s forty-below.” So says the Johnny Horton song (number 6–you can hear a sample and read lyrics).

When I get up in the morning it’s generally 40-above these days. It’s been a chilly spring, though, and things are just beginning to get green. On Tuesday, I spotted this (yes, on the way to the mailbox):


This is a Fairy Slipper or Calypso Orchid, (Calypso bulbosa). They grow more or less individually and are just 4-6 inches tall. Tiny little (often) solitary flowers doing their flowery thing in the vast moist, mossy woods. I’ve never seen the leaves of this flower; they die when the flower blooms. I do, however, know where a couple (and I mean two) of these plants are on our property, so will be looking for the leaves next year, hoping to spot a real live one in the wild. They bloom early around here–just the second flower species I’ve seen this year.

I get excited to see these flowers because there are so few of them, and they are so tiny and seemingly tenacious–delicate things surviving (thriving?) out in the Big Woods where 1000+ pound moose tromp around, munching helpless greenery. So I went on a several-acre fairy slipper hunt and found eight of the pretty pink flowers. I shot several.

Categories: Alaska

5 replies »

  1. Wow! I don’t think I have ever seen one of those before. Now I want to come out and hunt for them too.

  2. And by “shot” I presume you did that with a camera 🙂 Should I mention that it is getting hooooot here? Enjoy spring!

  3. Beck, what are you waiting for–an invitation?!

    Kat, I’m leaving the shooting up to your imagination. And I’ll leave you the hoooooot weather, too. We about die when it hits 80 degrees here!

  4. Jen, the Fairy Slipper is gorgeous. And the link to the Johnny Horton music took to me to my younger years – notice the album’s first tune was Battle of New Orleans, one I remember, oh so well! Actually, I must admit I’m old enough to have remembered every song on the volume! So your blog was an awesome treat today, a feast for both the eyes and the ears – and I loved the poetic description of finding the Fairy Slipper. You should be a writer!!!!

  5. Ha! Thanks, Gayle. You should be a publisher!

    I confess I didn’t know of Johnny Horton until Mike introduced me to his music. We have that Best Of album, and I know the Battle of New Orleans well now, too.

    He isn’t a relative of yours somewhere, is he?