I have to plan phone calls home to the East Coast carefully, separated by 4 time zones. 7am seems to be the best time to reach someone during business hours — corresponding to 11am Eastern. Time is an an interesting concept in Alaska because, if all time zones were equal, it would span 3 hours difference from Juneau to the Atmautluak. This was the way time was divided in Alaska in 1966, according to the Alaska Historical Society.
Southeast [Alaska] would have Pacific Time; Yakutat would observe Yukon Time; most of Alaska west of the border with the Yukon Territory would fall in Alaska-Hawaii Time; and the Aleutians and western Alaska would be in Bering Time, three hours behind the Southeast.
In 1983, four time zones were shrunk to two, and later, to a single time zone. At noon, the sun is almost directly over Juneau. But solar noon doesn’t arrive in Atmautluak for another few hours. As a result, we have a lop-sided day.
Tomorrow we have only 2 hours of daylight before noon, and five for the rest of the day. The photo at the top of the page was taken about 10 minutes before 5pm, roughly 20 minutes before darkness fell across the horizon.
If there’s a preference between light on one side of the day vs. the other, I prefer it to be in the afternoon. In Vermont we’re used to going to work in the dark, and so there’s really no difference here. It’s the going home in the dark that’s a bummer on the shortest days of the year — and luckily, our afternoons are long enough to at least get a peek of the sunset when the work day is done.
Daylight on the shortest day, winter solstice, will begin at 11am and end just after 4:30pm. I can live with that. My lunch break is at 12:10, so I will be able to go for a walk in the morning sun. At 4pm, I’ll walk home with time to spare before the sun sets.
I’m told winter is coming a little late this year. Some of the locals can’t wait for the river and tundra to freeze. Transportation is a lot easier as the land becomes navigable by snowmobile and the river’s ice-highway by truck. I was taken by surprise when someone said, “I can’t wait for winter — I’ll be able to ride in a warm truck!” Prior to winter, travel is by boat, or by waiting on the air-strip for a plane to pick you up.
The river froze over a couple of weeks ago, then thawed completely. Ice floes are gathering today — and it’s not likely we’ll have an open river much longer.
Once again, it sounds like things are going well in Northfield. I couldn’t help but notice Saturday it was warmer here in the Y-K Delta than in Northfield, Vermont. We were at a balmy 36 degrees while folks back home were at a windy 27. Seems a little upside down. : )