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.

22 comments:

  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.

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  2. And snow. And your photos of Alaska.

    Nice work Jill.

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  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.

    http://technicolouryawp.blogspot.com/2008/12/winter.html

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  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.

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

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

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

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  7. Harold8:24 AM

    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.

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  8. Anonymous8:58 AM

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

    Botched

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  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!

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

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  11. winter luvs you back. i asked.

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  12. dinglearm10:29 AM

    Wow..nice.

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  13. Gorgeous pictures. Again. Sigh...

    J

    http://adventuresinvoluntarysimplicity.blogspot.com

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  14. 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.

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  15. "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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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

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  18. 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!

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  19. 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!

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  20. Thank you once again for your pictures.

    Isn't reflected light off the snow wonderful?

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