It finally happened. Earlier this week, I drove to work and peeked at the peaks of the Chugach Mountains on a chilly morning following a rainy night, and there it was - "termination dust."

Our friends in the Lower 48 probably have no idea what termination dust is, but ask any Alaskan and they'll tell you in a second: it's the first sign that winter is near. Well, that and the annual bonanza known as Permanent Fund Dividend day.

Termination dust, to Alaskans, is the first dusting of snow on the mountains, and we all notice it immediately. Much like when the northern lights start dancing, termination dust lights up people's Facebook statuses, which I find funny because it's awfully hard to miss snow on the giant mountains that shape our Valley. They dominate the landscape and the first snow on the peaks is very noticeable. But I guess if it doesn't happen on Facebook, then it never really happened in the first place.

Termination dust officially closes the chapter on summer. Realistically, that happened weeks ago, but as Alaskans, we hold out admitting that for as long as possible. When the snow appears on the mountains, well, that pretty much finalizes it. I guess it could be worse - snow has already appeared in the Fairbanks area, and it seems intent on making its way to Southcentral Alaska at a pretty quick pace.

It won't be long until winter has her grips firmly around us here in the Mat-Su Valley, and another season of snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and other winter sports start up. But I'm in no hurry - I'll try to hold on to fall for as long possible before embracing winter.