The Long Night

The long night is beginning. It started slowly and quietly two and a half weeks ago. Most people have noticed by now. In one of my classes, I heard a fellow in passing mumble something about, “You know, it’s so dark now this time of year…” The long night is usually invoked as an explanation for failures. Tardiness, oversleeping, breaking engagements, and generally engaging in hibernating and denning behavior. It’s the reason for the seasonal affective disorder.

I love the long night. Historically, I become nocturnal during this time of year. The relevance of the sun’s rhythm fades and stretches along with the shadows which daily block it’s rays from affecting my life. Currently, we have four hours of daylight a day. Come solstice, it will be about two. We who live in the lowland swamp, the frozen tundra, shaded by the tall spruce have adapted to life in the dark. Our mark is the headlamp worn around the neck at all times. We cannot afford to live among the colorfully pale birch that only grow on the hills, up where the warmest air currents float. In this land of extremes, the lowest elevations pool with the coldest air, reaching points on the thermometer only read about by those who dwell on the hills.

During this time of year, the entire town turns down the volume. Everyone seems muted in action, emotion, and meaning.

I look forward to the long night.


Friday Afternoon

Busy weeks create clutter. My life feels like a constant battle against clutter.

This week I fixed a creaky old truck, replaced my cabin’s central heating unit, kept up with work, attended 3/4 of my classes, only missed one homework assignment, played with the dog and the girlfriend and did some vital home improvements.

I don’t know how I’m keeping up with my life.

I wonder if all falls have me going at this pace, buying bulk food and chopping wood and repairing heaters and generally preparing for winter. Some falls feel like I couldn’t even close the barbecue before suddenly it was buried under three feet of snow. But this fall I’m almost ready. If it snowed tomorrow I would only curse one thing, not my entire yard. The shed is still a mess, spilling onto the grass, buckets, fans, tarps, I want to take it all to the dump and accumulate no more. But I know they are necessary things for what I do. I survive. I eke out a living in an inhospitable corner of the world, living below the poverty line, constantly paddling and trying to get my head above water.

One day I will do more than survive, I will thrive.

That day feels sooner than ever.

My girlfriend got her PFD. She bought us curtains for our cabin. It feels like such a luxury, almost a sin. Disposable income and home decorating and niceties have been so foreign to me. When I was young I used to love to read interior decorating magazines. The future I have realized is far from the impeccable, tastefully dressed and well lit rooms of my dreams. I have yet to live in a place with more than one room. My cabins have been dingy, drafty, poorly lit and overpriced. I cannot be more relieved to be out of the rental market, as stressful as a mortgage and a home ownership is.

I told my girlfriend the other day not to worry, we will see better days.

It’s not all dreary dudgeon up here though. My girlfriend’s sister and her boyfriend adopted a husky puppy, she’s 7 weeks old, clumsy, fat, loud and oddly calm for a pup her age. Much more thoughtful than my husky pup (now 5 months) was at her age. I think she will make a good lead dog, she already seems smart, brave and thoughtful. This morning I was pupysitting. Essentially I was acting as referee between them, schooling my older and stronger pup on what it means to turn the other cheek when your playmate is half your size. In between keeping a watchful eye on the two of them, I got half the homework done that I ought to have done, but that’s better than nothing. Dog food isn’t cheap, but I don’t know how I survived without the joy they find in life. I couldn’t ask for much more than a companion who wants to take a walk with me every day.

First blog post

I started this blog for myself. I think it’s important to have a creative outlet, somewhere that I can record my thoughts. I am poor and on medicaid, and I cannot afford therapy. I am a student living in the middle of Alaska, and I may never show this blog to anyone I know. I would like to record here some of my favorite things about my life, about the land around me and the weather that challenges all Alaskans. Perhaps when I am feeling cold and like giving up, I can read some of my favorite things and think of one more to write down, and keep going.

Last night was a late one. We were out walking the husky pup around ten PM, and we saw the best Aurora in years. It danced and swirled, thick bold bands of green and thin whipping, dancing ribbons of pink tipped purple. We stayed out later than usual watching, open mouthed. The pup had never seen the Aurora before in her life and seemed very unsettled.

Last night I put the last of the firewood in the wood stove. Today I need to get to work with my chainsaw. The nights are getting colder and I can feel that snow is coming soon. I think it will be white by next weekend. I need to get my woodpile stacked high, I feel the anxiety of a skinny vole stashing cranberries.




These pictures of the Aurora Borealis were taken last night by a local photographer. Please do not use the images without crediting them. Their work can be found at