March 21st. It's the first day of spring - and we're on the way to another glorious Yukon summer of fun in the sun. We hope. Spring comes quickly in the Yukon. One day, you think the endless winter will never end. Next day, on a sidehill where the ravens soar, out pops a soft purple flower which seems to say, 'Don't worry, be happy. I'm back'. Actually, it may not be until mid-May that the crocuses pop up.
The prairie crocus is a heliotrope. A what? Well, in Beatles language, Paul McCartney would say it's a flower that follows the sun. It turns through the day and the petals act like a satellite dish to gather every bit of heat from the spring sun. Smart little flowers, these prairie crocuses.
Smart in many ways, actually. For example, hairs on the leaves cut down on water loss by protecting the flower from the wind. The flower opens in sunshine and closes in the evening and in cloudy weather. You can watch for it. But not for long. The flowering periods lasts about two weeks. The long, feathery seeds ripen in May to July, depending on latitude and altitude.
Then the above-ground parts of the plant dry up and disappear.
Like other plants, crocuses have medicinal properties. A poultice - or plaster - made from the plant was used to treat rheumatism or other muscular pains by early settlers. It was also used to stop nosebleeds and draw out infections in cuts and boils. But don't eat it. The crocus is poisonous.
Like some other plants, the prairie crocus flowers in abundance after a forest fire. Fire removes the dead plant litter, returns minerals to the soil surface, and increases light. Lots of flowers, like the fireweed, can be found in burn areas.
Besides, Manitoba long ago took possession of the crocus. It was chosen as the province's official flower in a school contest back in 1906.
The height of the bloom for the crocus is the second week of July. After that, the appearance of new flowers tapers off and the plants put their energy into seed production. Occasionally, if a cool spell is followed by warm weather late in the summer, a few of the early plants will flower again.
Sometimes prairie crocuses in the Yukon can be seen flowering again as late as mid-August. But that's a long way off.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
|January 12, 1906||A rich body of high grade ore is discovered in Black Hawk Claim in the Windy Arm District.|
|January 17, 1906||The local government assay office presided over by Robert Smart is now the only one in Yukon Territory.|
|January 25, 1906||All Yukon is shut off from telegraphic communication with the outside world due to bad weather.|
|January 26, 1906||Godfrey Chealauder inaugurates the preparations for the Alaska-Yukon exposition to be held in 1909.|
|February 1, 1906||Peter Richen builds a new hotel in the mining town Conrad.|
|February 1, 1906||Dawson votes for a hydrant water system.|
|February 6, 1906||Capt. Roald Amundsen leaves Eagle for Herschel island, where he rejoins his vessel.|
|February 8, 1906||Yukon Commissioner Hon. W.W.B. McInnes arrives in Whitehorse on his way from Dawson to Ottawa.|
|February 13, 1906||G.H. Sproat, superintending engineer of the B.Y.N. fleet of steamers, passes away in Victoria.|
|February 15, 1906||The Whitehorse Carnival is a great success.|
|February 24, 1906||Dr. Thompson becomes the Yukon MP.|
|March 2, 1906
→ March 13, 1906
|J.P. Rogers resigns from his job as superintendent of the White Pass railway as of April 1, 1906. He is succeeded by Victor I. Hahn. Hahn takes charge of the office duties March 15, 1906.|
|March 9, 1906||In preparation for heavy traffic along the Alaskan Coast, the Northwestern Steamship Company buys three new steamers (Orizaba, Saratoga, Yucatan) of 3000 tons.|
|March 12, 1906||The Monte Carlo building on First Avenue in Dawson is destroyed by fire March 8, 1906.|
|March 19, 1906||White Pass & Yukon Route joins the Rosene company to build a railroad up the Copper river from Valdez.|
|March 26, 1906||Ottawa asks the White Pass company to lower prices for their freight charges into Dawson and the Klondike country.|
|March 26, 1906||Wrangel, the oldest town in southeastern Alaska, burns down to the ground March 24, 1906. The loss is estimated at $1,000,000.|
|March 29, 1906||By an arrangement made between the Bank of Commerce and the Bank of British North America, no more American silver is put in circulation in Dawson, in conformity to an order issued by the Dominion government for the recall of all American silver.|
|April 2, 1906||The Guggenheims take over all the Treadgold interest on Bonanza March 31, 1906.|
|May 2, 1906||The "Daily Evening Star" becomes the "Weekly Star".|
|June 15, 1906||Right Rev. William Carpenter Bompas, D.D. passes away at Carcross June 9, 1906.|
|June 15, 1906||The Dominion Hotel is leased by Mrs. R. Kelsey.|
|July 13, 1906||Works on the Peace River-Yukon trail resume. It is planned to finish the trail.|
|July 13, 1906||Mining at Pueblo Mine begins.|
|July 20, 1906||A rich vein of gold-bearing quartz is discovered near Robinson, at the headwaters of the Watson River.|
|July 27, 1906||W.C. Grainger and H.W. Vance locate and file application for a townsite at the railroad siding known as Robinson, 21 miles south from Whitehorse.|
|August 3, 1906||Governor McInnes visits Whitehorse July 30, 1906.|
|September 28, 1906||The White Pass steamer Columbian is wrecked by the explosion of three tons of black powder aboard. The accident occurred on the Yukon River at Eagle Rock September 25, 1906. After the explosion the steamer was run to the shore where she burned down. Five people die in the accident, more are injured.|
|October 19, 1906||Margaret Flemming is married to Joseph Wellington Clifton October 17, 1906.|
|November 2, 1906||Winter mail service from Whitehorse northward is inaugurated October 29, 1906.|
|December 14, 1906||A railroad project is incorporated under the laws of the state of Washington November 27, 1906. The incorporaters are headed by Jack Dalton. The route of the line commences at Haines Mission. The railroad renders accessible important and established placer camps along the Lynn canal, the Chilkat river, the Klenihi river and the Porcupine river.|
|December 28, 1906||The government house in Dawson burns down December 26, 1906. The house was erected in 1901.|