Outside. Out-of-doors. As in, not indoors. That’s been the mantra of many an Alaska family this past month, and with good reason. An unprecendented spell of glorious summerlike weather has descended upon the 49th state, causing a disruption in our normal May activities of shoveling dirty snow, unearthing toys left over from October, and unclogging storm drains.
If we were to stop and think about it (and, granted, many of us have), this stretch of sunshine is an oddity not experienced by many Alaskan residents, so understandably, we are desperately trying to make sense of 17+ hours of sweetness and light, so unaccustomed we are.
So, in response to inquiries of survival tactics, queries about eternal daylight, and downright frustrated messages from AK Grandma (“Are you there, at all?”), I have compliled helpful guidelines to assist Outside visitors, friends, and family who are unclear as to what it means to be Alaskan during these days of global-warming-infused deliciousness.
Read it. Understand it. And please, don’t attempt to talk an Alaskan off his or her deck when temperatures reach 65 or higher. We’re immersed in Vitamin D therapy and can’t afford to waste a minute.
HOW RECOGNIZE SUMMER IN ALASKA
1. Alaskans are exhausted. There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Alaskans are tired in the winter because it’s dark all the time, and tired in the summer because it’s light all the time.” True story. You just try going to sleep with sunlight streaming in your windows and the entire neighborhood mowing lawns at 10 p.m. Better yet, try putting kids to bed at 8 p.m. when their pals are still outside riding bikes and hooting and hollering to wake the dead. We don’t want to waste a minute of this eternal twilight/sunlight, and we’ll sacrifice bedtime to do it.
2. Houses are a mess – indoors. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but my house has dust bunnies and dirty laundry, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to take an hour away from my hike through the sweet forests of Anchorage just to toss in a load of whites. Alaskans never know what tomorrow’s weather might be, and thus must take advantage of a pretty day, now. There’s plenty of time to wipe down floors while it rains buckets outside.
3. Garages are full. Full of gear, that is, leaving little room for cars. No problem, we have at least three or four months until we need to clear space to beat the first snowfall. In our garage right now there are four bikes, several soccer and footballs, and a collection of random footwear intermingled with backpacks, bear spray, and the latest haul from Costco. At least AK Dad remembered to put away the milk.
4. Alaskans are mentally prepared for the end of days. As mentioned above, Alaskans tend to be rather dubious about any stretch of warm weather lasting longer than a day or two. This weeks-long paradise has us worried, indeed, prompting prefaces to casual conversation that sound like this. “IF this weather holds out, we’ll have a great fishing season.” OR, “I KNOW it could still snow, so I haven’t put away the shovels, yet. As soon as I do, it’ll come down and people will blame me.” See what I mean?
5. Nobody is home. Calling an Alaskan? Be prepared to leave a message, because we’re not at home. I have a really hard time explaining this to AK Grandma. We’re leaving now because we might not be able to leave, later. Miles of trail, waves of ocean, and moraines of glacial ice await us; all the better if it awaits us in sunny weather. Social media takes a backseat unless it’s an accessible Instagram account; then we’re frantically posting filtered images to make you all jealous.