What do Fairbanksans do in January? We either escape to warmer locations or hunker down and survive. Just about all our close friends and family are or have been in Mexico, Florida or Hawaii this month. January is the month to leave, after the holidays, dark and cold. The best timed winter vacations are when you get back and there is noticeably more light which is why the population of Fairbanks takes a dive in January.
Those of us who remain here toughing out the most dreary days of the year, well we hunker down and survive bouts of cabin fever. We just came off a couple weeks of twenty to forty below zero. The last few days have seen single digits in either direction which have felt balmy. It was a lovely break from the brutal cold, which is back where we are headed. D spent the warm weather wisely, stocking us up on water and wood.
I forget how much work it takes just to survive thi time of year. A significant portion of each day is spent feeding, watering and caring for all the animals. We've got close to a few feet of snow, and the steep narrow trails turn treacherous this time of year; step six inches off the packed down path and end up in a snow drift up to your thigh. The snow is pretty but it makes for so much more work, clearing stairs and paths, knocking and brushing snow off the hay shelters and then there is the quarter mile long driveway. D spends a couple hours a day outside chopping and hauling wood indoors and hauling and pumping water for the house. Survival.
My inner candle is still burning brightly. As much as I would love to transport myself somewhere tropical for an indulgent dose of sunshine, well I've been treating myself by taking it easy. I am usually cooking up elaborate meals this time of year. Instead, I've been spending my free time reading young adult fantasy novels (no laughing please - my husband teases me plenty). In my defense, it has been a lovely escape, and much cheaper than a tropical vacation.
This is the month for dreaming and resting. Next month I'll start planning a little more seriously, placing seed and chick orders etc. I am just getting around to picking up the seed catalogs. Today the kids and I looked through the first catalogs and they showed me what flowers they want to grow this year in their gardens. Their lists are long and are going to entail quite a bit of negotiating. Noah wants to grow watermelon which has been a temptation for me for some time. I'm drawn to the white and apricot fruited varieties. I'm thinking we may have to try one of the shortest cold season varieties, in the greenhouse inside another greenhouse:) My main thoughts are more shelling peas, pumpkins, some different flower varieties and more medicinal herbs.
Considering the fact that the kids have only left the house twice since Christmas, they are surviving these dark days in good spirits. We have been putting together lots of puzzles, playing lots of card and board games, and having daily lesson time where Noah and I work on math or reading and writing. We have a couple simple science projects in the works, he is keeping watch over some beans that are growing and avacados sprouting in water. We've also been having music time weekly where I pull down the instruments and we all play, dance and sing.
The sun is so low on the horizon that we are getting daylight from about ten to three p.m. Our property hasn't seen the sun since I can't remember, late November I think. But I know when it comes back; about February eleventh it will peak over the tops of the south row of spruce and hit the greenhouse and chicken coop for a half hour, and then it is noticeably sunnier from there on. Someday we will face south, and bask in the sun even on the shortest day of the year. For now, our wood stove and Christmas lights bring cheer into our home, and of course, our inner candles are burning brightly still.