Oct 24, 2005

Rhythm of the North

Posted by Mary |

I am a creature guided by Circadian rhythms. Even more annoying, I am a morning person. Not one of those people who wakes up early, has a cup of coffee and then faces the day. No, I like to bound out of bed (when not snuggling with Tom, the ultimate de-motivator). I'm bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, chipper and LOUD. Statistics show that people want to strangle me in the morning a full 57% more than they want to strangle me in the afternoon. But dammit, I like the mornings! Which brings me to my problem: Alaska sucks.

I find it increasingly hard to get up early and face the day when the sun won't show up until, say, 9 a.m. Actually, I'm not even sure what time the sun is rising lately because I work two stories underground at the university library in the morning. As a result, my body gets confused every winter and I don't know when to wake up. I moved here in January 2003, which was a shock to my system. In January, the sun isn't up until around 10:30. Even worse than the sun coming up late is that it then has the nerve to set in the early afternoon. If it isn't difficult enough getting up in the pitch dark, you then have to try to stay awake at 8 p.m. when it's already been dark out for several hours.

Fortunately, Alaska has a good way of keeping you awake in the winter, and that's the cold. You don't think the cold can wake you up? Try going to the outhouse at -30 degrees F. And that's on a warm day. You'll be singing the praises of blue foam on when it's -50 degrees F. (Yes, I am going to keep writing the temperatures in AP style, because I'm a dork precise.)

However, before you go thinking Alaska is a horrible place, here's a list of why I stay here each winter:

  • Aurora borealis Known as the northern lights. They're there in the summer, too, but you can't see them. Because it never gets dark.
  • Cross country skiing I don't know why I never tried skiing before I moved here, but it's great to throw on a pair of skis and take off into the darkness after dinner. This year will be even better, because the new cabin was built near over the top of the ski trails.
  • Sauna It's just not as much fun in the summer.
  • Mushing Totally not a plug for the magazine. I may not mush, but I like being able to watch the races.
  • Moose They're around in the summer, but hunger drives them closer to us in the winter.
  • Chena Hot Springs Like the moose, Chena is also there in the summer. But so are 276,982 tourists, which makes for a mighty crowded lake. In the winter, all you have to worry about are Japanese couples fornicating.
  • Bragging rights Hey, I don't see you peeing in an outhouse at -50 degrees F.

Besides, summer will come back eventually.