Monday, December 22, 2008

Alaska Solstice: It's All Downhill from Here

Solstice in AlaskaYesterday was officially the Shortest Day of the Year.

Not that those of you living in Tuscon think much about little things like your daily sunlight dosage but yesterday the sun rose at 10:14 am and set at 3:41 pm for a total of 5 hours, 26 minutes, 57 seconds of daylight.

The solstice always feels a bit like a false start because in my mind it means we should begin to feel things progressing toward spring when instead we aren’t even into the deepest, coldest part of winter yet.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me—if the days start getting longer come December 22 why doesn’t the weather start getting warmer? June, the month of the summer solstice where we get our longest day of the year, is also the hottest month of the year and has the best weather. Why then should we have the cruel irony of having the winter solstice come a month or two before we even get into the hardest, nastiest part of winter? We’re being cheated I tell you.

It’s really not fair. If all the winter were like it is in December the season would be a breeze to endure. The Christmas part of winter is a novelty with all that white, fluffy snow and the holidays and good willing toward men so that the season just flies by and the significance of the solstice gets lost among the tinsel and mistletoe.

But in January the thrill of the holidays has passed and we’re faced with four months until spring and all that fluffy snow hardens in the bitter cold until when you step it sounds as if you’re walking Styrofoam because of the funny squeaky-crunchy sound. Just because we’ve turned a corner and are now seeing more of the sun doesn’t mean we’re heading to spring, we’ve still got miles to go before winter is conquered and I can once again breathe outside without it hurting all the way down my throat into my lungs.

Though don’t think me ungrateful, I’ll take whatever I can get, even the measly 11 seconds we gained over yesterday and the 23 seconds more we'll gain tomorrow, but if anyone out there has any influence at all please take note that I'd be forever happier if this creeping back into the daylight meant something more than just more sunlight glinting off the cold-packed snow berms.

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Technorati tags: Alaska, winter

22 comments:

Michemily said...

I know what you mean with being able to get through December because of Christmas. I'm a little worried about getting back in January. At least we'll have one more hour of sunlight in January as opposed to the one hour in December. :) Have a merry Christmas!

chelle said...

It is the coldest, and yuckiest here in January and February. Winter has only just begun! brrr

Joanna said...

After reading your post, I saw an article answering your question- apparently, we can blame the snow?

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I remember that cold, and how bleak January and February can seem. When we lived in Fairbanks, sometimes it seemed as though we didn't see the sun at all. Sigh.

I also remember a saying from one of the Little House books: "When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen."

Around here, the hottest month is August. I remember in Fairbanks it was starting to cool off in August, but we moved to California in the middle of that cruel month, and came down to 110 degree days. OUCH! Thank goodness for Grandma's swimming pool!

Melissa said...

Living in Texas, I miss the snow of a "real" winter. Reading your blog helps me appreciate what I have more, though. I'll be thinking about you during those bitter months!

M said...

If it makes you feel any better, its 22 degrees warmer in Anchorage today than Rochester. I feel your pain!

Carrie said...

I just don't think I could live with that little sunlight- I would probably go crazy!

I live in western NY- near Buffalo, so we have a long, snowy winter season, too...usually late October through March- but at least we have sunlight from 8 to 4 or so!!!

Chris said...

The snow looks beautiful, but no light? That sounds dreadful! I guess I'm a true California girl!

Blog O' Beth said...

I grew up in Michigan and moved to Texas as an adult. When people ask if I miss the snow I always answer "from November to January and then not at all". The snow is great during the holidays but that long and depressing stretch after January is tough. I wish I could bottle sunshine and mail it to you.

Miriam said...

I'll trade you your December for my December. Last week we had a record snowfall in the Spokane (WA) - Coeur d'Alene (ID) area: 20 -30 inches, depending where you live, in less than 24 hours. We've added 2 to 3 inches every day since. This after an unusually hard and long winter last year, when it snowed in JUNE! Ugh! I'll take my Klawock, Alaska winters from my childhood over this any day!

Two Mittens said...

I totally agree. Winter up to December is not too tough to manage. Even though we're in a total deep freeze here in Calgary. It's all the cold uglies that drag on for months after.
I'm still trying to figure out how to make it all more livable. Without actually moving south!

Tamara said...

Wow! You are so right but it sounds so dismal. I just keep chanting Feb. 15th, Feb. 15th, Feb. 15th when it will feel light again.

Chrissy Johnson said...

You're reminding me of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I guess being a newbie and all, I'm LOVING this weather. Although I've been in the South for 5 years...and the cold and snow is like a welcome mat. We even did the solstice hike at the Eagle River Nature Center.

tjhirst said...

You know it is now really the first day of summer, right? We have so much to look forward to.

Thornyissue said...

Every year I pack on a few pounds (OK several more than few, alright, twenty)in the fall, like a hibernating critter. I mark return of the light with annual resolve to fitten. Congratulate me, I'm sore all over, starving, and I've lost three ounces. But we've got thirty seconds more light! We don't get direct sun here until MLK day, and only a touch then. The secret to avoiding SAD is keeping an herb garden with a grow light, staying busy with inside projects, and getting older so that the time whooshes into spring before you've noticed. Of course, the problem with Alaska, with so much to do, the summers are even whooshier.

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

When I read the post title, I thought "are you crazy" and then I read the post and thought wow how similar our lives are despite our distance apart. I always feel the same way about winter solstice.

Ginny said...

I know what you mean, I'm the same way in Michigan. It is freezing now & just gets worse in Jan & Feb. Lately March & April have been terrible as well.

Jennifer said...

I am totally with you on this one! We're in North Pole and I think the darkness is harder to endure than the bitter cold. I hate to think that we have so many more months of winter... It was a hard move from California :)

mrs. sarah ott said...

Happy Solstice from all the way in Anchorage lol. I was complaining about 4 degree weather and have yet to head up to Gakona for Christmas where we'll be vacationing in -20. wooohoo! lol. gotta love it though; i'll be keeping my eyes on the sky for those beautiful aurora dancers

Abby said...

This was the hardest part about living in Alaska for me. I just didn't realize until I had to live without it how much the sunlight meant to me. Yes I was one of those weirdos who had to turn to the happy light. It really worked too!

Mimi said...

I live in Maine where it gets dark around 4:20 pm these days. I always feel like I don't care HOW freezing cold out it is if the sun is just shining. My friends and I are saving some money this time of year by NOT throwing holiday parties and instead throwing them in February -- when the holidays have past and we need something to look forward to before springtime comes in mid-April....

alotalot said...

I feel the same way! It certainly isn't all downhill to Spring from here. January is such a drag!