Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The brightest time of year

Date: Dec. 16
Mileage: 12.5
December mileage: 431.4

The sun rose today at 8:42 a.m. and set at 3:06 p.m., for a daylight total of six hours and 24 minutes. Juneau is going to lose exactly one more minute of daylight between now and the solstice on Sunday; then we begin the long upward arc toward summer. It is, by most accounts, the darkest time of year. And yet, I don't see it that way.

Back when I first moved to Alaska and started venturing out into the snow and painful air to train for the Susitna 100, I joked with Geoff that winter was my favorite time of year in Alaska. But as years wore on, as snow fell and wind blew and I spent more and more time out in it all, that became less of a joke. Now I find myself in my fourth winter in Alaska, falling more deeply in love.

I love the sharp lines and soft colors of a world swept with snow and encased in ice.

I love the crunch of tires spinning up a difficult trail. In winter, the rides become so much harder; the rewards so much greater.

I love the random bruises that crop up on my skin after I fling myself off my bicycle in yet another battle with gravity. They remind me that I am pushing myself; that I am always pushing myself to be better.

I love the sting of cold air on sweaty skin, and the flecks of frost wrapped around strands of hair and eyelashes. They remind me that I am a furnace of self-perpetuating warmth, biologically engineered to move freely through the world, awake and alive.

I love the low sun and long shadows, stretched across pristine landscapes.

I love the stark, white surface of distant high mountains, looming with all the fragility of a ceramic sculpture and mystique of a forbidden border.

I love the deep silences and startling realizations.

I love my Pugsley.

I love winter.


  1. Me too. I like rain gear, long johns, hot coffee. The cold reminder that I'm alive.

    We had snow. And it's about as cold as it gets here today. I love it.

  2. And snow. And your photos of Alaska.

    Nice work Jill.

  3. I feel the same way about winter (although my winter is different than Juneau's); I'm just not as eloquent.

    In fact, I just blogged about winter here yesterday.

  4. Jill,
    Your photos are as stunning and discriptive as your words. I am a sucker for the images that include your two-wheeled partner in adventure and pain.

  5. Simply breathtaking ! I envy your solitude in this world you are embarking upon. I miss it.

  6. After those photos... I do too!

    I finally went snowboarding with Sara! It was a blast. Wish we could go together :( Love you!

  7. I also love winter. I love when a cold wind suddenly takes your breath away.

    The jacket doesn't look too big. I think you got a great deal.

  8. Minus 18(F) here in Wyoming this morning. Maybe I won't be doing any snow biking this year after all.


  9. With beautiful photos & scenery like that... how could you not love winter.

    Soup, chili, oatmeal, warm drinks, warm fires, cold bike rides and runs.

    You have to love that!

  10. Your last picture makes you remind me of "survivorman" but you would be "survivorwoman"- if that makes sense :)

  11. Gorgeous pictures. Again. Sigh...


  12. Snow is beautiful (especially under blue skies) and skiing is great fun. I just don't like the cold that goes with it ...

    But who knows, if I keep reading your blog I might move to Alaska one day? :-) Just kidding.

  13. "They remind me that I am a furnace of self-perpetuating warmth, biologically engineered to move freely through the world, awake and alive."
    Not a lot of iguanas up there I bet:) Thanks for the great words.

  14. winter does have a way of making warm, sunny, springtime weather that much more enjoyable when it does come around... i will give it credit for that.

  15. I'm growing to love the winter, as well -- though i really, really, really hope for an awesome summer in 2009! Last year's summer was... less than magnificent.

    I think the frost on the trees is the thing that tips me over to really liking winter up here. It's rather fantastical. Almost fictional. At least, from a Floridian's perspective!

    Beautiful post -- AWESOME photos!

    - Janson

  16. I love this post & I love winter too for all of those reasons. Geoff is so right about how it makes spring so much more enjoyable!

  17. A good friend told me about your blog and I am glad he did. It was 71f here today and while reading and taking in the breath taking photo's I felt that a little hot chocolate was in order!

  18. Thank you once again for your pictures.

    Isn't reflected light off the snow wonderful?


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