Winter Solstice...the shortest day of the year. I had never given December 21st much thought, but living in Alaska has given new meaning to this phenomenon. Time to celebrate!
In Anchorage, on Winter Solstice, we have a little over five hours of sunlight. In Northern Alaska, they actually have 67 days of no sun at all! Just the thought of that makes me want to cry. I guess five hours isn't so bad. I'll take it!
We do our schoolwork basking in the light of our "happy light", which is supposed to help with Vitamin D production and improved mood. Maybe I'll try playing some Hawaiian music in the background to increase the effect? Some beach, somewhere.....
We spent Winter Solstice doing some pond skating with friends. I have done a lot of skating, but this was a first!
Westchester Lagoon is a year round recreational spot, with fishing and hiking trails in the summertime, and skating and cross country skiing in the winter. The pond was HUGE!
Below is a great aerial view of the lagoon, there is a large speed skating oval, general skating area, and a hockey rink. And it's free! Just show up, lace up and enjoy! (Owning your own ice skates in Alaska is a given.)
We skated the speed skating oval several times, and it was great exercise! And you really can't beat the scenery. This picture was taken at about 1:00 in the afternoon, and you can see how low the sun was. Even when the sun is up, it is at a very low angle in the sky. It's never right above you. Strange.
I guess I am kind of a "skating snob" and have never liked outdoor rinks because the ice quality is usually not the greatest, so I was expecting even less from a pond. But, I was pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the ice. They actually do groom the ice, not by Zamboni, but by a truck with some type of hose system. It was fun to watch.
So far, so good, the only problem was the single digit weather, but that was nothing a little hot chocolate couldn't cure. (Even when you are exercising, it is hard to breathe in the extreme conditions. You can actually feel your nasal cavity freezing when you inhale. It's a strange sensation.)
Later that evening, we attended a Winter Solstice party in downtown Anchorage.
There was fire dancing,
sleigh rides and hot chocolate,
and ice skating, of course! We didn't skate this time but will have to return. The Cuddy Park Oval is one of only a few outdoor, 400 meter speed skating tracks in United States!
I really enjoyed time by the fire, too!
Overall, a fun event! But the best part? The days now get longer. Minute by minute we will climb out of this hole, until we have 22 hours of daylight by June 21st. I don't know how I feel about that one, either! I'll keep you posted.
Confession time: It is easy to smile for the camera and pretend that everything is wonderful, but the truth is, Alaska has been TOUGH! I came here kicking and screaming, actually. I did not want to move to Alaska and was bitter at God for sending us here, via the military. I prayed for Europe or closer to home. But, Alaska? Alaska is neither!
So far, I have found Alaska to be cold, dark and lonely. Maybe it didn't help that I just had my life's greatest adventure, with three years in Asia, and have still been mourning that loss. I know I sound like a big baby, because I have had more blessings than I even deserve in a lifetime.
But, then I felt the gentle voice of the Lord say, "Maybe your life's greatest adventure is yet to come." So now, I choose to embrace what is, and have a better attitude. I may never love Alaska, but with the Lord's help, I will find contentment here. God won't always give me what I want, but he will ALWAYS give me what I need. And like the good, good Father that he is, it will always be for my good. This promise is where I rest my hope.