Saturday, January 16, 2010


This is a picture taken from school out across the bay. The lumps in the far right distance are icebergs. Doesn't it look pretty out there?  Yeah, it's inaccessible right now. :(

It's so cold right now that walking from school to home (a distance of 500 yards at most) causes any exposed part of my face to get lobster red and throb all day.  It's so cold right now that when we walk on the wooden porch, it snaps and moans.  It's so cold right now that the impossible dryness that comes with it is causing all manner of skin ailments, including skin cracks that just won't seal up, no matter how much Weleda Skin Food I put in them.  It's really cold right now.

Most folks imagine that I'm used to this type of cold, but as my mantra expresses: Hooper Bay is the most perfect place on the planet, and one of the reasons for this is moderate temperatures.  The incredible cold that people read about in Jack London novels happens in the interior of Alaska, where there are trees and stuff.  While we get really crazy wild windy weather, we rarely get this kind of cold that we have right now. And when we do, it doesn't stick. And usually, it's the calm days that cause the mercury to drop.  This weather is defying all that.

What kind of cold, you ask? Well, for the past week, my thermometer has been reading between -2 and -10, and that does not take in to account any windchill. If the wind is calm, it's actually fun, actually cool to be outside in negative temperatures if you're dressed right.  The snow is so dry and packed that it feels (and sounds) like walking on styryfoam, and it's usually clear skies, so the stars are twinkling flashing multicolored magnificent.  It was like this last week, and I got a few early morning walks with the dogs in before anyone else was up, underneath the waning moon.  With the moon's sliver light, and the wierd snow to walk on, it kind of felt like what I imagine it's like to walk on the moon itself.

It's on these nights that we actually get to see the fickle northern lights, though sometimes it's in the wee hours of the morning and I'm never up then.

However, this week when it was already negative temperatures, the wind picked up to 30 mph, and that has caused it to actually feel like it's -50 outside, and maybe I'm wrong since I haven't ever lived in the interior, but it's a more dangerous, more cruel -50 than when it's just -50 and calm winds.  My lobster face says so.

So I'm not really used to weather that is too cold to function outside in. Usually, there is an activity that I like to do for every kind of weather -- I like to get out into those wild snow storms and such.  Plus whenever we've gotten snow this winter, the storm it rode in on has caused the temperature to rise to 32.5 degrees, which makes everything all mushy and wet, which just adds to the thick sheet of ice that is covering everything when the temperature drops like a brick again when the storm passes. So not only is it too cold to do anything outside, those 30 mph winds make for some interesting walks to school on the foot-thick ice. 

So we stay inside and bake, read, watch movies(when the girls go to bed), play board games, make up silly dances to Royksopp, talk on the phone, pretend to clean house and organize, put pictures in frames and scrapbooks, scurry the few hundred feet to the school to watch basketball games or participate in Yuraq (traditional eskimo dancing) in the gym, and BLOG!

In general we stay grateful for modern heating conveniences, though it always feels a little like living on the edge -- if the power went out, if we ran out of heating fuel... yeah, I can sense that the cold is a heartbeat away. It waits on the edges of the house, seeping in where I can't detect it and plug it up.  I think of people who were here before us -- what did they do in cold like this, in a sod house, fur clothing & blankets, and a little seal-oil lamp to heat the whole place?  Huddle together?  Yuraq to get their body temperatures up?  Although I think that it would be neat to experience a lot of things from earlier times, this weather makes me so glad I was born in the era in which I was born.  Plus, two yaks, my job would have zero application if I were yanked back 300-500 years (though I'd like to say my avocations would!).


Anonymous said...

Yes, that is frigid! Here in Oklahoma, we had two days of temps that were 18 and 14 degrees for a high. The morning temps were at zero with a wind chill. We let out school!! Mostly because so many of our children in the inner city do without basic necessities that we all take for granted, like a heavy winter coat. Some walk a mile or more to school. Now we're back to normal, a sunny 59 degrees.


kate The kid said...

i cannot even imagine. i love your photo and thank you so much for your work...i am glad i now live in NC, winters are not as bad a OH and WAY different from AK!

stay warm and keep dancing!


~Kim~ said...

I found your blog via "Ninny" and just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed my visit! We lived in Anchorage for 10 years and came to Virginia about 15 years ago. I have very fond memories of my time there! We had "friends of our friends" who lived in Hooper Bay, but for the life of me, I can't remember who they were...I remember thinking about them when I heard about a fire there in 2005 or 2006 (?) Anyway, it takes a special person to live where you do, and I know you are making a difference in your "neck of the woods!" ~Stay warm!~ :-)

Related Posts with Thumbnails