Clarence Kramer Peak reflected in Beaver Lake. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Clarence Kramer Peak reflected in Beaver Lake. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

More so than any particular date on the calendar, natural events mark the seasons in Southeast Alaska. The arrival of herring in the spring, the first hummingbirds, the salmon run, flocks of Canada geese and swans headed south, and finally this lovely sugar-coating of snow called “termination dust.” Sitkans woke up to this and similar views on the crystal-clear morning of October 1.

Although the term means different things to different people, it found a footing among early Alaskan prospectors. Termination dust meant it was time pack up mining camps before the onset of winter.

Just because the snow-ridge splendor
Shames superlatives to naught,
Just because the sunset’s fire
Cannot by man’s pen be caught,
Just because Alaska’s beauty
Speaks alone in scenes divine
Are the reasons striving mortals
Try th’ immortal to define,
For they flush with earthly effort
With a drink of sacred wine.

— Harold Salisbury, Poems of Alaska