Monday, December 15, 2008

Surviving Winter


Wow, Blogger is allowing high resolution uploads again! I was starting to lose hope and thought I would just give it one more try before bedtime using Firefox instead of Safari.

I've lived in Alaska for over 20 years, mostly in places where the days get a lot shorter than they do in Unalaska, and I think everyone is affected to some extent by the lack of daylight in the winter. With long work hours and few days off, the only daylight I see sometimes is through the window and briefly at lunchtime. It can be tempting to go into "cave mode" in the winter, but those that resist and get outside know that all those favorite summer hikes and activities are still there and waiting. Here are a few keys for staying sane in the winter:

1. Embrace the weather in all its fury. Our temperatures out here don't get low enough to create truly deadly wind chill - and the old adage there is "no bad weather, just bad gear" certainly applies. Walk on the beach and watch the angry Bering Sea and be grateful you have a warm house and hot cocoa to return to after your walk.

2. Be flexible. When Chico and I walked up the backside of Bunker Hill last Friday and I took the above photos, I had completely different ideas of the pictures I wanted to take - it was the biggest full moon of the year, and I was hoping to be able to see it shining over Illiuliuk Bay from the top of the hill. What actually happened was a snow flurry came in as we walked to the top and pretty much blocked any hope of seeing much of anything - but it was still a great dog walk, just not like I planned.

3. Don't be afraid of the dark. With the landscape covered in snow (until the latest melt-off over the last few days) it is never truly dark. For me, the bottom photo lit only by the lights from Unisea and the Small Boat Harbor far below with a 1/8 second exposure is much more visually interesting than using a flash to try to banish the darkness.

4. Try things you can only do in winter. Goldfish and I love snowshoeing and we're looking forward to when we can get some snow that sticks around for awhile. There is also sledding and skiing at the Bowl, bird watching for those species that only winter in the Aleutians, and watching that most exotic temporary resident of all - the Bering Sea crab fleet with their DC circus in tow.

Cheers and happy holidays!

14 comments:

Lori said...

Wow, what a great picture! Love the siloutte of Chico. I enjoyed your words of wisdom this morning and only hope that someday I may experience the peace you find in all that surrounds you.

Ang said...

Great pictures! I love the bottom of one of Chico.

Suzassippi said...

Beautiful pictures. You seem to have mastered the philosophy of "choose what you got."

Kathy said...

Isn't it funny what you first notice when you look at a picture? The top one drew me in with a feeling of warmth coming from the town below and from Chico, standing watch above. The last thing I noticed was the light from the flash. Go figure. Thanks for sharing!

Lothian said...

Great advice Steve! Wonderful pictures as always.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

So apparently you don't get all that much snow -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. So in terms of temperature, how low does it usually go? 20's?

BZ

P.S.
I REALLY like the second photo at night with Chico and the lights in the background! Wonderful shot!

Kim said...

My first thought with the top pic was it looks like CHico wants to chase a snowflake or 5. I do like the second pic without the flash. Its like the light is calling you in for some warmth.

Gigi said...

Glad you are getting photos up again and appreciated your thoughts as well. Unfortunately, I still cannot post photos!! It keeps telling me that Safari can't access something. I am frustrated after reassuring you that it was not the Mac. Now I am beginning to wonder! We'll see if something happens in the next day or two but otherwise I am going on vacation and not gonna worry about it!

lvoeanewidea said...

What a terrific post - lovely photos and thoughtful words.

Carlisleboy said...

Yeah Sure Steve and Gigi. Winter. It got up to 46F here today!!!!
I had Better see some snow for Christmas!!!

Lauri said...

WoW Steve, great photos! I think I need you to tutor me on the fine art of blogging...if you are willing. You have the best blog and I really enjoy your photos. Mine pale in comparison.

Happy Holidays to you and Goldfish :)

Alaska Steve said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. BZ, like we discussed, it's really hard to gauge on the snow - it snows and melts, snows and blows 90 knots, snows and stays awhile - the snow is more of a collection of short stories than a good long novel you can hunker down with. Because we're on an island, the temperature range is dictated by the water temp and is fairly narrow - it doesn't get much colder than 25 and it doesn't get much warmer than 65. Jane, take photos on vacation and share when you get back - or from the road! CB, winter is more than the temperature, it is the lighting and the pace of the island - you'll see . . . . thanks for the call on the discounts at AC, I drove by on my way to Strawberry Hill to walk with Chico and saw all the cars in the lot and kept driving. I live our here so I can not deal with that scene! I heard there was lots of grabbing and pushing but no one got trampled . . . . .

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I love your take on the weather. For someone who lives on the California coast, I have to say, I LOVE the fog and the rain.
Embracing the weather is part of living here too since the fog hangs out here in August. It can be very cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon.
I love your pictures as always.

Gigi said...

Yeah, we didn't go back to AC for the 50% off either. Rich looked in and the lines were way too long. We will be satisfied with our 25% off from the other day! As for weather, my daughter in Amarillo, TX gets more snow, ice, and below-freezing temps than we do. I tell her to come to Unalaska and warm up. I think our average winter temp is 39 and average summer temp is 59 so we are not too extreme in either direction.