This time of year, I send Ozzy and Tripp off to walk the block to school in moonlight. Here they are this week as they begin the trek. Tripp is howling at the moon. Ozzy is annoyed that this photo op might make him late for school. The time is approximately 8:45 AM.
Winter Solstice is a noted day in Alaska. The sun is at its most southern declination on this day, or said another way, it is the darkest day of the year. Sunrise today was at 10:14 AM and sunset was at 3:42 PM for a total of five hours and 28 minutes of sunlight. If you factor in dawn and dusk that gives us a total of seven hours and 32 minutes of light. This is the light of high noon on this Winter Solstice.
When we lived in Robe River, a small neighborhood six miles from Valdez, the mountains are so tall that the sun does not clear them for a full six weeks. If we wanted to see the sun in person, we had to drive to town.
Tomorrow, we begin turning towards the light. The change is small at first–just a few more minutes of sun each day. But by the end of January, we all start to feel the difference–begin once again to believe that summer will indeed come. For those of you who have never been to Alaska in the winter, the magic of all this darkness must seem mysterious and maybe even creepy–who would want that? Well, it is the absence of light that makes its return so magnificent.
I know the lack of light is troubling to some. It can encourage depression and drinking. For me, it has always been fascinating. I just can’t get over the number of long hours of darkness the months of December and January hold . One year, I photographed the sky every day at nine in the morning just to document the day by day increase in light.
For the past seven years, my husband and I have celebrated Solstice with our dear friend Lila. She builds a bonfire in her drive way in Spenard, Alaska. We gather around that fire and tell stories of darkness becoming light. We celebrate this moment of turning towards the sun. It is a wonderful evening of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
This quilt is about that moment of darkness to light–community and friendship in the cold long dark night that is an Alaskan winter.
Good Grief!!!! I had no idea it was so dark….so long….up there in Alaska.
Well illustrated with your quilts, Maria dear.
Thank you Sue. It seems like a long time, but it really flies by and then we get this amazing spring and summer full of light. It is worth the wait.
Hi Maria, I loved this post!! I’ve often wondered what it is like in Alaska in winter. Is it “really” that dark all day???? I had sooo many questions. And you just answered them. so thanks for sharing!! Hope you have a Happy Holiday season up there! Greetings from rainy, rainy, rainy, soggy Ohio! Where it got an unreal 60 degrees today. Last week had 6″ of snow on the ground, go figure….. Beth Schillig
Thanks for stopping by. I love irrational mid-western weather.
Beautiful, beautiful, Maria!!
Thank you Lila! We will miss your party, but I am glad a made quilt about it.
I’ve been in high summer no-night-at-all in Antarctica, and almost-no-night-at-all in Alaska, and found them both exciting. Next I want to experience some no-day-at-all and see what the other side is like. So far no concrete plans for how to accomplish this.
Kathy-I welcome you for a visit! We get a lot of quilting done this time of year.
What a small world! I didn’t know you knew at least half of the Loomis pair. I’ve only met Loomie – and he so awesome I can only image what Kathy is like. Beautiful people Beautiful quilt
My friend in San Fransisco calls in the winter to ask what time the sun set. I should have him call you next! Lucky you to live the contrasts….. So much light in the summer, I suppose? Love the B&W Solstice quilt.
Yes Barb, The opposite is true in the month of June. People are mowing their lawns at midnight. We run around 24-7 until all we can think about is the lovely, slow darkness of winter.
Love the black and white quilt and now that I know how short your daylight is, I’ll stop complaining about the length of ours in Idaho.
Linda- Thank you for stopping by. I know what you mean. I used to think Kansas was dark. It is all relative.
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