I’ve mentioned before that life in Alaska is very seasonal. The fireweed is the perfect example. In the summertime, Alaska turns purple as the fields of fireweed all over begin to bloom. The fireweed is so ubiquitous, it’s part of the culture. It’s the name of roads and businesses and used in lotions, candles, and jellies. I’ve even eaten fireweed ice cream! The flower begins to blossom at the bottom. As the summer progresses, the blossoms move up the flower until the flowers are just at the top. When all the blossoms have bloomed, the flower goes to seed in a white flurry that looks like smoke. The progress of the fireweed is closely monitored as our cultural indicator of summer. It is said that when the fireweed “burns out,” or goes to seed, summer is over.

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