Although it’s a good three weeks earlier than normal even the naysayers in the Talkeetna area have conceded that our ‘winter that wasn’t’ is now history and break up has taken hold. We’ve seen afternoon temps above freezing for the past 17 days – I’ve included today but given its already 31.7 F and sunny at 11:46 AKDT I’m confident we’ll break 32 F – and even the hard packed ice of the gravel side roads is beginning to yield to the solar blitz leaving patches of brown earth not seen since last November 9th. We are approaching fourteen hours of daylight and it is indeed very noticeable; as I returned from doing my Monday evening music show on KTNA I drove home in twilight at 21:10 with the western sky still ablaze from the sun which officially set at 20:34 that evening. There remained even a dim glow on the western horizon a bit past 22:00. This morning I noticed a faint glow on the eastern horizon around 06:30 and it was light enough to read outdoors by a bit after 07:00. We are really seeing the flip side of the darkness that pervades winter in the higher latitudes!
As the light becomes more and more persistent I find myself having more difficulties falling asleep even when I’m tired. For some reason my body seems to resist sleeping when its light outside; this could well explain why I’ve never been a successful napper. While my retirement makes my sleeping schedule less of an issue I do have some routines such as my weekly trip to a Palmer warehouse to load up donated food stuffs for ‘the Pantry’ (technically the ‘Upper Susitna Valley Food Bank’…see why we just use ‘the Pantry’?) which requires I depart here by 07:15 so I can guarantee an arrival by 08:50. Since I enjoy a quiet cup of coffee before I head south I find myself needing to be up and about by 06:00 on Thursdays. Once a month I make a similar trip to Anchorage and I have to be on the road by 06:30 on that Thursday morning so I can make the warehouse in the Muldoon area by 09:00. Since retiring I found my sleep has moved from barely 6.5 hours to something approaching 9 hours a night; I also noticed I feel so much better with more sleep. As the season progresses it will be blazing sunshine even at 22:00 and that’s the time I need to be falling asleep. I’d read a while back that folks in the higher latitudes often use aluminum foil to cover south and west-facing windows in their bedrooms to promote sleeping in the late spring through early fall time period. Yesterday I did cover my one south-facing window in the master bedroom with a layer of aluminum foil and it made a wonderful difference. Yes, I do have light blocking drapes on all my bedroom windows but far too much light leaks around the four edges to make them really effective at blocking sunlight. My aluminum foil cover guarantees no sunlight leaks through and is easily held in place by duct tape.
This is working so well I plan to cut up some paperboard boxes awaiting the burn barrel and fabricate large panels which can be pressed into the window recesses and fit via friction. I will cover one side with the aluminum foil and thus I can use them season after season; this saves on aluminum foil usage. While I suspect this will not look particularly ‘stylish’ from the outside I’ve learned that living in Alaska is much more about functionality as versed with style. If the solution to an issue works well Alaskans embrace it and move on with life; after all, up here there is just so much life to experience..!!