This world. This place. This life.

When the Night Closes In


Our local public radio station includes in its weather reports how much daylight we have each day.  From winter solstice to summer solstice, the announcer says something like, “Sunrise today was at 7:22 a.m., and sunset will be at 8:46 p.m., for a total of 13 hours, 23 minutes of daylight, a gain of 5 minutes, 44 seconds from yesterday.”  From summer solstice to winter solstice the report ends abruptly after telling us the amount of daylight.  No mention of how much light we’ve lost.

Alaskans love summer solstice.  We celebrate the sun, because we know, literally in our bones, how its absence feels.

But for me, summer solstice is bittersweet.  I love the upswing of the light that begins in December, the surge of new life in spring.  It’s hard for me to celebrate summer solstice when I know we’ve begun the long slide toward the cold dark of winter.   Summer in Alaska is busy and short, and autumn is even shorter.

A fellow Alaskan UU blogger  has a different take on the summer solstice on her blog today. Influenced by her interests in Buddhism and Paganism, she writes, “This day reminds me to savor every sweet and wonderful thing I see without begrudging its eventual loss.”  A lovely lesson, and a worthy goal.


6 thoughts on “When the Night Closes In

  1. It’s funny you should write about the solstice, because I really don’t like our early sunrises in summer and early sundowns in winter here in Illinois, but I’m always reminding myself that it could be worse — I could live in Alaska! So, how long are your days now?

    I personally love the winter solstice, because of the promise of longer days, and I just sort of pretend that the summer solstice didn’t really happen.

    Thanks for the tip on the UU blogger! Love her stuff.

    • Lots of folks from the Upper Midwest live here in AK. I think it’s about imagination. People who live through Michigan winters figure, “How bad could Alaska be?”

      I haven’t seen darkness since we were in Michigan last month. 🙂

    • Sun rose at 4:20, will set at 11:43, a total of 19 hours, 22 minutes. We have lost 11 seconds of daylights since yesterday. 🙂

      Here in south central Alaska, it stays dusky throughout the night. Further north the “Midnight Sun” think is more intense.

      There’s a lot of transplants from the Upper Midwest here in AK–I think a lot of people tell themselves that if they can survive a Michigan (or Minnesota, or even Illinois) winter, they can handle AK.

  2. Thanks for the link. Hope you had a lovely solstice. I didn’t quite make it till sundown; I had to crash.

    Deborah – sunrise was about 4:30 am and sundown about 11:30 pm in our area. I forgot the extact times.

  3. Pingback: UUs celebrate General Assembly, the solstice, and more « : The Interdependent Web

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