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.
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.