Winter has officially arrived on the Alaska Peninsula. The snow arrived about two weeks ago, and it seems set on sticking around for awhile. With the snow, comes the cold - and temperatures in the -20's have been making regular appearances. Despite the cold, winter has always been one of my favorite seasons. I love celebrating the holidays with my family, watching fresh snow quietly settle over the landscape, spending the afternoons ice skating on frozen lakes, and snowshoeing through the hills.
With winter in Alaska also comes the darkness. Sunrise is now at nearly 10am and sunset is at 4:45pm. The shortened days make me feel like a hibernating bear, sleepy and ready for a long rest. I'll admit that winter always makes me sleep more, which I don't mind at all. I also spend a lot more time indoors doing little projects, watching movies, cooking, and reading.
When the sun does show its face, I try my best to find my way out into it for awhile. After school, I rush out the door to make some time for dog walks out on the frozen tundra. The weekends are no different, except for the fact that we load the car and drive the dogs to different, farther locations to add some variety to our explorations.
While winter is beautiful and relaxing, it can also be a season for cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It's really important, especially in such isolated places, to find ways to keep yourself entertained. SAD is an especially big issue in Alaska's far northern climates.
Last weekend, Cody and I were feeling particularly cabin-fever-y and just couldn't stay inside and watch one more movie. The temperatures were in the single digits and the sun had been set for hours, but we didn't care. We called our neighbors (the other teacher and her husband) and asked if they'd like to go explore the frozen lake. They agreed, so we all bundled up and walked the short distance to Loon Lake. The next hour was spent with all of us laughing, slipping, and sliding our way across the extremely frozen surface. Within ten minutes of being out there, a Honda (4-wheeler) burst to life and a posse of our students showed up. They'd apparently seen our headlamps and wanted to come out to play too.
Winter is a beautiful time in Alaska, but it's a harsh time too. Finding hobbies, staying busy, and maintaining relationships with those around you are all important aspects to staying happy in the bush, especially this time of the year. As winter continues to settle itself fully in the area, and we spend our days locked in hours of shrinking sunlight, life continues to be an unforgettable adventure.
Your turn...Has winter begun yet where you live?
Currently listening to...Paint the Silence - South