A lovely time of year … to go someplace else

High noon at our house yesterday. The sun is just behind those mountains. And notice the snow on the picnic table.

Dear winter reader,

We are in the midst of the darkest, coldest time of year here in Alaska. And this winter has been a bit extreme. We have so much snow at our house, Sam broke the plow off the front of the truck trying to clear our driveway. On Facebook, friends and neighbors are posting things like “20 below zero for third day in a row” and “wish I had remembered to plug in the truck.” There are also a lot of photos of cool blue mountains and frosty trees, with comments like “Beautiful, but so cold.”

This time of year can be dangerously cold. When Sam heads out by snowmachine on his trapline each week, he brings extra clothes and a fire-starting kit. He and his trapping partner travel more than 50 miles by snowmachine, crisscrossing river and streams and glaciers and enduring temperatures around 35 below zero Fahrenheit. They often break through overflow ice, which is formed when water runs on top of the surface of a frozen river and freezes again. It creates a false layer of ice. When you break through, you aren’t in danger of drowning, but you and your machine get sopping wet. With temperatures so brutally cold, water becomes a hazard all itself.

This is also the darkest time of year. At our house, we have entirely lost direct sunlight. The sun doesn’t rise high enough in the sky to clear the mountains. For about two weeks either side of winter solstice, the sun is just a bluish glow behind the peaks.

I love winter. I really do. I love sledding and skiing, ice skating and building snow forts. During the weeks leading to Christmas, I am positively joyful with the season.

It might be cool and rainy in London this time of year, but surely it's not 20 below zero.

But once Jan. 1 comes and goes, winter loses some of its luster. February is actually my least favorite time of year in Alaska.

This year, though, we are being rescued. I just got news that my UK publisher, Headline, wants to bring me to London for a week in February for the release of The Snow Child. We’ll also get to see a bit of Scotland during our visit.

The editor, publicist and other staff at Headline have been so wonderful to work with these past months, I am thrilled to get to meet them in person at last. And, I have to admit, I won’t mind bidding adieu to February in Alaska, even if it is just for a week.

Cheers!

Eowyn

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 07:44:55

    How I wish I were getting to go to London next month. I have many wonderful memories of my month in England. I know you are going to have a great time.

  2. Sue Mathis
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 11:04:06

    I was in Scotland about 20 years ago. What struck me the most was how OLD it is. Here in the US, we are only a little more than 200 years old. The castles and buildings there that are 400-500 yeas old are things you just don’t see here. It was awesome! Have a great time! If you are taking the girls, there is a wonderful doll museum in London that we went to. Lydia was enthralled with it and she was never really into dolls. BTW – I was there in December and it was cold and wet. Not the kind of cold we have here.

  3. A Baer
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 12:59:01

    We haven’t heard about how your ice skating rink has fared through all this snow. Did you ever get to pull the skates out?

    • Eowyn Ivey
      Jan 06, 2012 @ 09:20:35

      Ah, the infamous ice rink. It is officially buried under three feet of snow. Maybe we’ll try again next year. And when are you turning northward and coming back home? Can’t wait to hear about your adventures A Baer.

  4. Mr. Baer
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 15:06:49

    To shed some positive lights on this January, I’ve never seen so much snow still draped over the trees and yesterday I walked for 5 minutes in the sun, just above our place. The sun will soon be back and with all this snow skiing is wonderful. The snow has set up, one doesn’t sink very far in on skis. I’ve been up to the Grandmother tree twice. Remember the offer is always out there, if you feel the need to strap on your skis, just drop off Rory and go for it.

  5. tkcrossley
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 18:24:26

    London! So jealous. Ever since we went last year, we’ve been planning a return trip. Hope you get some time to check out the sights. The Museum of London and the National Portrait Gallery are awesome. The British Museum and the Museum of Natural History – not so much. Too many people.

  6. Betty Rachel
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 21:10:58

    I love winter also – even if the sun never comes over Pioneer Peak and it is 14 below at my house. Just bundle up and get outside. Thanks for sharing the wonders of winter with everyone!

  7. Valérie
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 07:37:36

    I guess you won’t be cold if the weather is not changing a lot in the next few weeks. In France, it is 10 °C, which is rather warm for this time of the year. Unfortunately, we’ve had no snow at all so far.

  8. Vivian Faith Prescott
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 09:52:46

    February is a great time of year to get away! You’re going to have a lot of fun.

  9. Chickaloon Jenny
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 10:45:24

    Our late night dinner discussion forecasts that February 1st will bring a huge snowfall, due to your book title. Being creative critiques, we came up with possible sequel titles:
    * The Relatively Mild Autumn Teenager
    * The Lack of Precipitation Summer Baby
    * The Sun Child

    For snow removal I came up with the brilliant idea of cutting igloo style blocks of snow from the snow walls and sledding the bricks to a snow dump. I wish the snow was compacted enough to build an igloo! Next project!

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