Today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. The sun will rise around 8:30 in the morning and it will set around 3:13 this afternoon, though it actually starts getting dusky earlier than that since the sun drops behind the tall mountains that surround us. At the Summer Solstice we have over 18 hours of daylight, and today it will be less than 7 hours. We celebrate the Winter Solstice in these high latitudes since it means that from now until the summer, every day will get longer.
The holiday season is in full swing here in Petersburg, with band concerts and the biennial performance of the Nutcracker by 150 young dancers from town.The dancing and costumes and organization of so many children, ranging in age from 3 to 18 is just amazing, and so many of these dedicated dancers are also top students and athletes in school. I particularly love the inclusion of so many little ones… While our hearts have been warmed by these lovely performances, our toes have been chilled by a long stretch of unusually cold clear weather. Over two weeks the frost has built up daily, creating the most amazing crystal formations.This may look like snow, but it’s only frost that has coated everything in a thick layer.The delicate crystal structures are infinitely varied and beautiful… everywhere you look. Even the Christmas lights on our boat grew long formations.Day and night the harbor was steamy because of the difference in temperature – the sea water never got below 42 while the air temperature dropped to single digits overnight. It made for a magical scene when the sun kissed the mountaintops in the morning.We don’t get long stretches with temperatures that stay well below freezing very often, but when we do the hockey club fixes up a skating rink by the ball fields so people can ice skate. The slough also froze solid and made for excellent skating.Because we don’t get these skating conditions very often, many children experienced ice skating for the first time. Winter in this part of Alaska isn’t what most people imagine! But the beauty of winter here… takes my breath away.