Susanna and Nisa in front of the GoLite…Even the tools to escape the darkness are blue — Photo by Michael Sharp
Valdez lies at 61º 07′ North latitude or 3,667 miles north of the equator. Our days are becoming noticeably shorter; we lose 5 minutes and 16 seconds each day. That’s 36 minutes and 52 seconds every week or 2 hours and 23 minutes each month. On December 21st (winter solstice, the shortest day of the year) there are only 5 hours and 23 minutes of daylight. The sun will rise at 10:07am and set at 3:29pm, then the cycle reverses and the days lengthen with the same dramatic leaps and bounds for 6 months until summer solstice on June 21st (the longest day of the year) when the sun rises at 4:01am and sets at 11:25pm. But it never really gets dark. The shorter days bring more than darkness. With each passing day the sun sinks lower and lower in southern sky and colors of our every day life shift and take on a winter guise. In typical Alaskan fashion, the color transformation is dramatic. As the latest storm rolls in over the southern skyline, the sky turns a deep and muted purple, which is an extreme contrast against the white jagged mountains. The water of the harbor and greater Prince William Sound transforms from a silt-laden blue to a exquisite jade that seems clearer than glass.
The prevailing hue in the color shift is blue. Not a cobalt blue but a milder more subtle blue. This subtle blue infuses everything, the color of snow, the tone of shadows and if we are not careful our very moods. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real thing when the sun comes up mid morning and sets mid afternoon. To combat the effects of the loss of light, every morning we sit in front of a special light designed to help our brains overcome the effects of the shorter days.
Darkness becomes a strange companion, something that is always present. It would be easy to stay in bed all day and watch movies. Or one can embrace the darkness, find solace in the quiet. This winter we are living aboard Bluewater. She is the perfect size for exploring and traveling, but tied to the dock she can feel very small. This winter we will explore the dark, we will frolic in the early evening stars. Who knows what we will find.
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