Breaking up is hard to do.

th-3The light is coming back. Sunrise today was at 6:37 a.m. and the sun will set at 9:23 p.m. Both times are deceptive, however: It’s bright before the sun comes up and after it goes down.

On Friday DF and I went to the Alaska Dance Theatre recital. Even though it was past 9:30 as we walked back to the car, there was daylight to spare. The better to see icy spots in the street and snow piles in parking lots.

That’s the tough part about this spring: It’s super-bright but still too wintry to do much that’s vernal. Can’t garden, can’t fly a kite without tromping through snow, can’t ride bikes (I don’t trust those icy patches, especially since I haven’t ridden a bike for, oh, 37 years).

Yet driving back from the store yesterday we saw pedestrians wearing shorts. To their left was a snowy landscape, to their right cars kicking up torrents of frigid, muddy water. Sometimes they walked on bare sidewalk and sometimes on sheets of ice. But by God they were walking in springtime.

Or “breakup,” as they call it here. I don’t own a pair of breakup boots but given how much snow is still left to melt I should probably consider it. Especially since more snow is in the forecast, which I think is just cruel.  We’ve already got all we need. th-2

Also spotted over the weekend: a couple of kids playing catch in the cul-de-sac. Neither one wore a coat, even though the temperature was still just 30 degrees. The sun was out, so as far as they were concerned it was warm.

The kid nearest me wore a T-shirt with one of those “Alaska Grown” insignias. I’d have figured that out even without the logo. 

Home before dark

The increased daylight is a tonic, in spite of the lingering chill. I have more energy these days. However, my sense of time is beginning to skew. When DF said it was almost 7 p.m. I was startled – hadn’t we left the house just a few minutes ago?

This happens every summer. I take a walk, or visit a friend, or pick up a book and suddenly it’s 10 o’clock. Time doesn’t stand still, but rather slips by on tiptoe. You have no sense of its passage: no slow dimming a couple of hours after dinner, no gradual evening coolness after a hot-and-humid day.

When I was little the neighborhood kids often came over to play baseball in our back field. Their parents would tell them, “Be home before dark.” You don’t tell kids that here.

DF remembers going to fish camp as a boy and sleeping only when he got tired. “Usually after eating,” he said. “You’d eat, and then curl up and go to sleep. It didn’t matter when you slept, because it was light almost all the time.”

Some people in Anchorage buy blackout curtains or cover their bedroom windows with aluminum foil. Others just do what their bodies tell them: Not tired? Don’t go to bed, then. I’ve heard of folks who drive to the Kenai Peninsula after work, fish most of the night and get back to Anchorage in time for work the next day. Suicide runs, they’re called.

Tempus fugit

My own favorite does-anybody-really-know-what-time-it-is story involves an early-evening visit to my friend Rebecca’s. At one point I told her about a nearby resident I’d interviewed for the upcoming Garden Tour. The woman had admired Rebecca’s garden in passing and invited me to bring her over and say hello.

We decided we’d walk over right then. Nobody answered when we knocked, so we shrugged – maybe they were on the Kenai – and turned to walk back. Then we heard a man’s voice: “Can I help you?”

Turning, we saw a man peering out at us. “Is (redacted) home?” I asked.

“She’s gone to bed,” he said pointedly.

Oh crap.

I checked my watch. It was 11:40 p.m.

Stammering apologies, we backed away – but then his wife came to the door, in her nightgown. Nothing would do but that she throw on a bathrobe and shoes and give us the grand tour. It was past midnight before Rebecca and I walked back to her house, trying not to laugh too loudly in case somebody, somewhere, was actually asleep.

I’m looking forward to more evenings like that. That is, when the gardens are green instead of white.

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  1. If you knock on someone’s door around here at close to midnight, the cops are coming to say hello.
    Funny story. And I still think the kids should have coats on. Guess they are tougher than I am.

    • Donna Freedman

      One of these days I’ll just drop by unannounced, around 11:45 p.m., and see whether it’s you or Den who meets me at the door with a baseball bat. 😉

  2. Midnight sun indeed! I would find that confusing too. 🙂

    My aunt in North Dakota says they are still knee-deep in snow. Happy Spring, y’all.

  3. HaHa, good to know it wasn’t just us. We had a similar experience in Whitehorse Canada, couldn’t figure out why all the business were rolling up the sidewalks at ‘like 6pm’ till we looked at a clock and found it was nearly 10pm.

  4. ImJuniperNow

    I have a hard enough time adjusting to Daylight Savings and the time change between East Coast Time and Central Time (a hour?).

    Like the song says, “Does anybody really know what time it is?”

    • I’m in Arizona, so it’s perpetually confusing. Especially since I work for a company out of state. Half the year I get to sleep in, the other half… not so much. And I’m still always confused by what time it is everywhere. Personally, I rely on my computer’s date/time feature and just look at the times that way. Sad, but it helps.

  5. You worried me with the title, lol. Your midnight garden call is hilarious. That would totally mess with my internal clock too.

  6. Sarah L

    That was a hilarious story!!

  7. WHEW…I thought you and DF had split. So glad that wasn’t the case.

    I wonder what Alaskan chickens do, in that increased light. Ours are reveling in the extra hours of sunlight — so much that I practically have to chase them into the coop at 8 p.m. or so.

    • Donna Freedman

      Nope, he and I are still foolish about each other. 🙂
      Not sure about poultry, since we don’t have any. But an Alaska summer would certainly give a different spin on “going to bed with the chickens,” huh?
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  8. I kind of love the idea of a late late sun. I think it’d go well with my night owl personality.

  9. We live in So. Cal not from from desert and STILL winter won’t loosen its grip.

    We are dying for a little warmth. Although I know we’ll be kvetching as soon as the heat really sets in.

    Can’t we just have some spring??!!!

  10. Neat story. Hey, I don’t understand how you announce the winners on this blog. I’ve waited to see who won and I don’t see it. It would be great if you would make it clear where you’re announcing the winner. That’s why winners don’t respond in time to so many blog contests. Some people put the winner’s name in the comments of the day the contest was run. Others make a special post.
    Just sayin’.

    • Donna Freedman

      I announce the winners on Facebook, and send each one an e-mail. It’s clearly stated in the “respond by…” section of the giveaway posts that they have to get back to me by a certain time.
      Perhaps I’ll start putting the winner’s name in each post. But that would require participants to remember to check back here, which I think is less likely than checking their e-mail accounts.
      Here’s how I see it: If I can go to the trouble of obtaining, publicizing and shipping the prizes, potential winners should hold up their ends, too.
      Thanks for the suggestions, and for reading Surviving and Thriving.

  11. I would freak out if someone knocked at my door near midnight and just to be safe I would answer it with my baseball bat in hand. Great post Donna. I am going to share it next Friday on our Dinks Finance roundup. Have a great weekend.

  12. Hah that’s hilarious – and I love that they both eventually came out. I wonder, if you need a full 8 (or whatever) hours of sleep and you can’t sleep until very late because of the light situation, do you end up functioning on a nearly nocturnal schedule?


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