Monday, December 31, 2007
The darkest day, celebration, and reflection.
It's been a little while. We were hunkered down in the basement, illuminated by the faint glow of 1 candle. A stray thread of light to focus our emotions on as we entered the darkest week in Alaska. It was all we could do to find sanity. December 21st, the darkest day came and went and at slightly less than 5 hours of daylight at the darkest hour.....we have prevailed. It is only uphill from here, adding 6 minutes of daylight each day. Now, as a result we are moving to South Africa this summer to enjoy a more steady flow of daylight, warmth, and a new adventure! HUH!!!!! And there were those who thought we would fold.... I have to admit, it was weird, yet humbling. I mean, you learn a new respect for the natives who have braved the difference of life here many centuries before us. You learn to adapt in ways you never had to before. Mind you, today doesn't really seem anymore light out than the 21st, the shortest, darkest day....the winter solstice. It is actually quite a celebrated day amongst most Alaskans. Even more special because it's Johns birthday! It is a day and night that many parties for friends, family, the community, whoever wants to attend takes place. At homes, churches, all over. We were invited and attended a party for the winter solstice with a group of spiritually minded healers, hippies, and native tribes people. It was a very enlightening night of drumming, singing native Indian songs, and sharing stories all in front of a bonfire in single digit temperatures. Oh, and lots of really good food! It is a belief that this day represents the elimination of all that burdens you and the welcoming of those things you want to bring new into the coming year of light. There is a story that this tradition of gathering began when native tribes people felt that the gods were angry with something they had done. This is the only reason they could figure for the days becoming darker and shorter. Basically....they pissed off the sun. So a celebration of life began in hopes of bringing happiness to a saddened sun with the hope that the days would once again be long and bright. Makes sense! ;) I tried the naked snow dance and it worked!! John spent the night at one of the community churches here in Nikiski with some of his friends for a 'lock-in'. Funny, in California it would be construed as a 'lock-down'..... Not nearly the same. Simply put, the youth attending were basically there for the night for games, dancing food and fun and not allowed to leave til morning.
After the last post we were intrigued by a development here in the house. One morning Maryann woke up and the temps were down to -20 below 0. She went into her studio and about choked when she found little ice sculptors scattered throughout the walls and corners of the ceiling. Apparently as we were to discover there is a name for these phenomena. 'Ice cactus'. This is a common thing for many homes, and most especially log homes. When the temps drop that low, any air gaps be it a door seal, a pinhole gap between logs, a draft from a window, anything that emits cold air from the outside will freeze and extend it's frozen rigidity into the interior as what resembles an ice cactus. People readily take action, as we did, to utilize these ice markers in order to seal up air gaps. I heard a story of one woman who found ice cactus around her door and used her mail to stuff into the door gap to stop the air. Others use such things as duct tape, newspaper balled up. We simply used a tube of silicone caulking and insulating spray foam. In fact we all 3 spent a long night in Maryann's studio fondling the walls to find air flow, caulking, foaming and doing all we could to better insulate it. In the end, we did pretty good. It is difficult with the log siding as so much as a fracture or split in a log can cause a draft. Plan is to really work on sealing between the logs from the outside this summer. Another thing that was neglected here by the previous owner....jackass! Sorry. All in all the rest of the house fared well. Still never figured out what that horrific noise was that night out back. There is speculation that it was moose....many moose around the lake that cold night, communicating to eachother. I don't buy that. It was a supernatural occurrence of great magnitude! I just know it.
Hopefully everyone had a safe and Merry Christmas.....Merry Christmas! And that this will find everyone with a Happy New Year. Again, many Alaskans will celebrate tonight bringing in the New Year with friends, family and community. Fireworks are a tradition here, and many folks go up to Anchorage and Talkeetna to buy displays to shoot off at home come midnight. Not the little ground sparklers either. These are those big mortar balls that launch 150 feet into the air letting off those huge showers of colored displays. I am sure there will as well be those who prefer old fashioned oxygen and settling in large balloons..... ;) We will be home tonight keeping it to family. John may have a couple friends over, and of course the party animal dogs of ours. Maryann and John worked diligently all day making homemade pizza, hor d eavors, cookies, and other good stuff for the night. I think we will be pulling out the game of Monopoly. I am somewhat hopping to make it til midnight really. The past week brought much snow, many long hours of snow plowing all hours of the day, and very little sleep. I will do my best. Toothpicks. Pryed between the eyes! So here to a new beginning. There are many friends and family who have taken some hits this year. Many who have lost someone or know somebody who lost a loved one. We actually received sad news last night of someone well known in our old community in Arnold who passed from cancer the other night. Last we saw her was last fall at another friends' wife's funeral. She looked fine and we were shocked to know different. Our prayers go out to Ron and her family. But despite all of those bad situations, those sad situations, we should look a little deeper and see the good that came out of the past year. It seems too often a focus on the bad of each exiting year. Good or bad we wish everyone enlightenment, peace, health and togetherness in 2008. Don't look back at 2007, but foreword to your dreams and hopes. Gone with your fears. Happy New Year!