Autumn on the Alaskan Tundra

It is Autumn on the Alaskan tundra and the colors are incredible–deep and bright reds, yellows, oranges, greens, blues (in the form of berries :).IMG_4101.JPG


After my 26 hour ER/hospital shift, that included 4 medevacs and an ACLS patient, I took a nap and awoke to go blueberry picking on the tundra. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze to caress my hair and make the tundra dance. The sky was sapphire blue and every time I moved to pick berries, the sweet smell of the tundra evergreens swirled around. Β I think picking blueberries on the tundra is one of the most relaxing, meditative experiences ever, and so therapeutic and delicious after a long call shift!

Gathering freely from nature is so awesome. I almost felt like I was trespassing, or needed to ask permission from someone, because so much is “owned” in the lower 48. But up here the land belongs to the people, usually the native corporations are the stewards of it. There was an amazing struggle for the native people to claim back their land that the government was taking because “It wasn’t being used.” The people had to fight and explain that it is being used…for sustainable hunting and gathering and subsistence living. Just because it wasn’t being tamed and tilled and seized for minerals and oil, or bought or sold or owned, doesn’t mean it wasn’t being used. It’s a beautiful idea to just get to go and live simply and take what you need and will use, but not excessively.


Tundra blueberries are smaller, but more packed with flavor than other blueberries! Full of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, deliciousness, and the make the best pancakes!


Tundra Autumn red.


Fireweed. There is a local saying that once the fireweed blossoms reach the top of the stem, there are six weeks left till winter! Here we go…button it down! Autumn comes and goes so quickly!Β 
IMG_3986.JPGFlowers at the top!IMG_3991.JPG

(This is what it looks like in the Spring and Summer when it first starts blooming-the flowers start at the bottom and work their way up:

Then the leaves turn red and the flowers leave behind long seed pods.
IMG_3993.JPGThe seed pods open up to the breath of Autumn.IMG_3994.JPG



Breathtakingly beautiful!

Once the seeds are gone, they look this…IMG_3988.JPG

More pics of fireweed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wildfire center

Tundra wildfireweed


Aptly named…looks like the tundra is on fire!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tundra overlooking the Bering Sea

Tundra grass


Cranberries–another of the tundra’s delights!

Fall over waterIMG_3997.JPG

Ready to take flight and dance on the wind!IMG_3992.JPG

Tundra lightIMG_3989.JPG

Alaskan cottonIMG_3987.JPG

10 thoughts on “Autumn on the Alaskan Tundra

  1. Hi Shana glad to see all of your pics. You have wonder photography skills. I looked for blogs from Nome when I visited in July and went back home to WA. I thought I recognized you from taking a tour at the hospital. I was sure it was you once I returned from WA to live in Nome, as I saw you at the airport. I would like to hook up with you sometime to go berry picking and learn some of the things to do here out of doors. Come by for coffee anytime. We are the orange house on 3rd.

    • Thanks, Patt! Welcome to Nome. πŸ™‚ Aww, I was going to go out berry picking and invited you tonight, if it wasn’t for the rain! Thank you so much for the invitation for coffee. God knows I drink a lot of it! Someday I will come by. πŸ™‚

  2. Doing great! Moving to Chicago with my daughter, or I should call it home base. My life is everywhere… Barrow, Alaska….Orlando, Florida…now Chicago. Next week I go to OK to see my grandchildren. Catching up with so many friends and family!

    Your free spirit touches my soul! Thank you! I know your family has to be so proud of you! I am blessed to have met you!

    • Awww, thanks! How fun that you get to see everyone! Hope you have a great time with your grandchildren! πŸ™‚ I feel the same–blessed to have met you. I had a patient today who was so sad you are gone. You are loved in Nome. πŸ™‚

  3. The fireweed makes awesome jelly! We made some as well as making a batch mixed between fireweed and freshed picked blueberries! Delish!

    • Oh that sounds mouthwateringly yummy! I would love to try that some day. πŸ™‚ I heard it’s also very good for you, and so are the blueberries. Enjoy!

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