And for those of you reading from southern climes.....the term "breakup" does not mean severing a personal relationship. Nope, for Alaskans, it means the period of time between "snow" and "green" or thereabouts.
Playing amateur hydrologist every day. You get to ply your shovel in creative ways, to encourage run off of melting snows. Trenches abound, but the old timers know that a simple slit made with the blade works equally as well. Some will succumb to sump and transfer pumps to hurry the process along. This works really well if you have someplace to pump to, that does not flood your neighbor.....neighbors are not appreciative of being inundated with adjoining run off.
Wearing your breakup boots. Usually these are either rubber muck boots, rubber boots, or your old winter boots because you can't find the previously meantioned ones. Wearing any other sort of footwear is very risky! Shoes and slippers are easily vaccumed off your feet in mud the consistency of sticky mush. Walking on gravel/dirt driveways and paths is an exercise in carefully planning your route, going slowly enough to change direction at the slightest hint of sinking,
The first mosquitoes appear. This usually occurs about the time we have temps pushing, or above 50 degrees for a few days. Since they breed in standing water-all the more reason to get that melt water the heck off the property-or at least away from the doors and walkways. They are usually pretty slow early in the season, and remarkably large too. Their bites remind you to locate the bottle of bug dope you stashed somewhere or other, or stop by the store to get some. Of course, there will be a run on bug dope everywhere now......they are out in force in some areas but have not appeared at my house as yet. I expect them by the weekend. (Side note: I do not know the life cycle of skeeters very well, but I do wonder just how it is they survive the freeze/thaw cycles we have in the spring-I mean, where do they go when it's 28 degrees at night? Anyone know?)
Almost every vehicle on the road is breakup colored. By that I mean.....dried mud color. Anyone driving a shiny vehicle right now, either lives on pavement, or is rather anal about washing their car. For myself, I give in and wash about every ten days. If I don't, the dried mud tends to stay caked on the sides which means I get to wear smears of it on my clothing from time to time.
Gardeners are anxiously checking their planting areas for frost depth, not to mention precious perennials for signs of life. Bushes are starting to bud, and so are the trees. Many folks are miserable with allergies (myself included) but so far, no big winds off the Knik or Matanuska glaciers-so no silt in the air to contend with.
All this sunshine shows just exactly how nasty all the windows in the house got over the winter. You can add your car windows as well, they do seem to acquire some sort of film inside and out over the winter months. I find the spring car window cleaning a real challenge myself, but a necessary chore.
Some folks are already raking and burning lawn debris.....right around my house, I still have some snow so being able to walk on a firm surface is about another week out or so. Areas more exposed to winds are way ahead of folks in wooded areas who are not-they probably still have little patches of snow in between trees, just like I do.
At the barn, the paddocks are a mucky mess. Manure cleaning is tedious and we have to carefully plan where to drive the four wheeler (with trailer) so as not to get stuck in the goo. All that large gravel we put in the three stalls has sure paid off, though! Those three stalls are bone dry, and while the gravel outside the stalls is being slowly worked into the mud....it's been a real plus not to have them standing in water this spring. I am betting it will be about another week to ten days before things really firm up.
Which is really what breakup is all about-waiting for that change from winter to spring, and I generally think of breakup being over along about the time the trees leaf out. Which is roughly Mother's Day in my area.