I have always declared myself a “summer girl”, clinging to my California roots no matter where life leads me. Warmth, golden sunshine, fresh strawberries, a beach cruiser, bare feet, sun-bleached hair, sweet tea… these are sweet to me.
Alaskans, or at least several of the Alaskans I am surrounded by, love winter.
It is true, Coloradans love winter as well, but for completely different reasons. Ask a Coloradan what they love about winter and the response will likely be “Vertical feet, powder days, shredding the gnar, the busy tourist season, skinning up the mountain, heli-skiing”… you know, conquering things.
Ask someone in my community of Port Alsworth what they love about winter. I have. My fears and doubts have grown as the summer has ended…MY time of the year…and the days are rapidly getting shorter. I have asked as many neighbors and friends as I can what they love about winter.
“We love that when the lake freezes over and the ice moves a bit, it sounds like whales, we love the Northern Lights, the vast array of stars in the completely dark sky, the way the full moon illuminates the night and reflects on the snow and you can ice skate in the dark on those nights.”
My friends speak of the way the community becomes more closely knit in the winter, of warm kitchens, and wood stoves, of hot chocolate, game nights, laughter, and bundling up long enough to get from one warm house to another. Nordic skiing, yes, on the lake. Being together, even better.
For the first time in my entire life, I am looking forward to winter. I have a good store of flannel shirts and thick socks that will hopefully last me until spring… and plenty of friends-become-family to share the short days with.
In “The Day Boy and the Night Girl”, a beautiful fairy tale written by George MacDonald, the two characters are from two completely different upbringings. The boy, Photogen, was raised completely in the light, never experiencing darkness, or even sunset. The girl, Nycteris, was raised completely at night, and the brightest light she ever saw was the moon. Their worlds come together. Both meet the other world with fear, then with acceptance. The story ends with the boy loving the night most because it belonged to her, and she loved the day best because it was where he thrived.
I am the Summer-girl. But my heart is longing for winter, along with those I love here. They love winter, and I am drawn by that love. Perhaps I too, shall be converted…from fear, to acceptance, to love and thriving.