Hard to tell right now but the days are getting longer. Tomorrow, for example, the day (the part with sunlight in it) will last more than a minute and a half longer than today. Daylight will last about nine hours and 45 minutes on Wednesday. For some, that’s just enough time to go to work in the dark, put in eight hours and return in the dark.
Before we know it the days will be getting shorter and we’ll be plummeting toward the uncertainty of another dark winter. But for now we are growing toward the sun. On June 21, we’ll have 15 hours of daylight, yeah! I’m looking forward to it.
We have to make the most of these dark days. Here in Carbondale some people shock me with their layered outfits riding mountain bikes down the icy, rutted roads in the dark. They won’t give up their stubborn addictions to two wheels, to carbon-free living and to exercise.
I don’t ride the bike that much, mostly because I have a little dog and my little dog Scout does not do the run along with the bike thing.
She’s like me. She likes the shoulder seasons when it’s not too hot and not too cold. We still have to get out and run, so I take her onto the cross- country ski trail. A brisk couple miles on the skis does me a world of good. Scout loves it too, but the only way to get her to go is by putting “PawZ” rubber slippers on her feet. Otherwise the ice balls get packed in between her pads and she freezes up.
This is a great solution for anyone with a winter paw problem. The first time we put Scout into the slippers she walked around the living room like she was exploring a distant planet with near weightless gravity. Hilarious! Now she looks forward to getting into a set of those booties and tearing it up outside with the big dogs.
Last year I saw a job listed that I was ultimately qualified for in Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is a place where you look out upon endless white vistas for endless hours in the summer and then endless vistas of inky black for long stretches of perpetual winter darkness. For example today, Jan. 15, 2013, the sun will not rise at all!
The temperatures are getting into the double-digits below zero and winds are causing blizzard conditions. All at night! On top of that, the big news of the day are the three whales trapped in the ice. Locals were responding with chain saws and axes. Even though it’s really cold now, news from out of America’s northern-most city is that the whales got trapped due to changes in regional climate.
A writer in the Barrow Newswire recently wrote: “For you global warming skeptics, here’s your proof. Scientists at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks report that during the first decade of the new millennium, 2000 through 2010, Barrow, Alaska gained an average of 3.04 degrees Fahrenheit.”
People in Barrow haven’t seen the sun all month. No wonder they’re cranky. The good news for those folks is that the days are indeed getting longer, and on Jan. 24 the sun will rise at 1:10 a.m. and set at 2:08 a.m. Now that’s a short day, but it’s a start. On June 21, Barrow will have 24-hour sun and no moon. Then it’s back on the big downhill slide to pitch black and stone cold.
As fun as it would be to work in a town like Barrow, I’m pretty sure I’d struggle with the weather. My wife, who’s from Alaska, has assured me that I would indeed struggle. The high country of Colorado with four distinct seasons, and mostly mild temperatures and weather is where I need to be.
Right now we are in the grips of a cold front, with a wind chill of minus 13 as I write this. This is the kind of cold that creeps a few feet into the house from the walls, windows and doors before being pressed back by the central heating system. This is the kind of cold where you’d last less than five minutes if you found yourself suddenly outside naked. This is the kind of weather that makes you thankful for the heaters and walls and whatnots.
I saw women walking outside today in ski outfits, big billows of steam coming from their mouths. I saw a bike with a homemade trailer go by. Another Carbondale gal pedaled past with a down hood tucked under her helmet, and the torn and tattered snow pants held together with duct tape. People here make do with what they have and get outside regardless of the weather, just like in Barrow. A kid was walking home from the store in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.
Steve Skinner notes that this is the season of hope. Reach him at email@example.com.