December 21 just marks the first day of winter for most people in the United States. And yes, I know, the days are shorter all over the northern hemisphere. But this day in Alaska brings a great sigh of relief for many!! On this day we will have only 3 hours and 43 minutes of daylight!!! Winter Solstice!!! Fairbanks is only about 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, so that daylight that I speak of, is only partial daylight. Basically, when the sun shines here, it looks like the sun is trying to rise and just can't make it up over the horizon. Sun glasses, believe it or not, can be an essential here in the winter time, because when the sun is out, it's always in your eyes!
Me, I don't mind the darkness so much. It brings with it a slow and enjoyable pace of life. Lots of evenings spent indoors with friends and family, visiting and playing games. Yes, it's cold outside, but inside, it's cozy, warm and full of life with those you love. When summer rolls around, the pace here is nonstop and while I enjoy the beautiful weather....all of that sun makes it hard to sleep. You go to a friends house for dinner and the next thing you know, it's midnight and you've failed to check the time....because the sun is still there!!! Talk about tiring!
We won't have any "real" sunshine for a while, so I'll enjoy the dark while it lasts. The boys will continue to walk to school in the morning with headlamps on for a while and I'll pick them up as the sun is setting for a while yet. By the end of January, our days will be noticeably longer and then in March when the spring equinox hits, we'll gain light as quickly as we lost it after the fall equinox. Then summer solstice, and then we start the cycle all over again. Alaska is truly a place that lives and breathes in accordance with the sun and the seasons. It's amazing!