As I've sat up late the past few nights and watched the glorious sun shining across the valley and above the hills to the west of us, I've been recalling my attempts to share the magic of this time of year with those of you who have never experienced a Fairbanks summer. I hesitate to even begin this year, because I'm just not sure how well it can be done. But, here it goes.
I have been going to bed between eleven and midnight, and the sun is usually still a glowing red fireball over the far hills. The air is warm and moist. Most the windows in our house have been open non-stop for the past several days. We've had a few nights that were still eighty when we went to bed, and that is rare. The only pests are mosquitoes, and they've been bad this year - but are not always so. The sun rises crazy early -without googling it, I'd say sometime before or close to four a.m. The birch trees are all bright to dark green. Today the air is exceptionally sweet and moist because it rained today. The air here is never very muggy, and it always has a fresh crisp quality to it that I craved when I moved away, and every time we fly somewhere in the warmer months, I always love stepping off the plane and smelling our fresh air - I've never smelled air so refreshing and clean anywhere else.
The interior of Alaska gets the hottest and also some of the coldest temperatures in the state. Our summers tend to start in May (not this summer), with seventies and lots of sun. June tends to be our hottest (70's-90's) sunniest month with exciting thunderstorms and fleeting showers. July is rich lush green and cools down towards the end. Our August is late summer and September is early fall.
Solstice is celebrated big time here with midnight baseball games, the Midnight Sun Run, down town festivities, camping, potlucks and parties. There is no time at night that it is dark, so many businesses extend their hours late into the night and people are out taking advantage of the warmth and the light. There is certainly a sense of urgency to make the most of every minute of our short summers. Town is crazy right now with tourists and locals alike in their campers, towing boats and water toys.
We have had the most glorious weather over the past two weeks, seventies to nineties with lots of sun. Every morning has just be gorgeous, and if you are like me, it is practically impossible to stay inside to even make breakfast and do the morning dishes, let alone do laundry or sweep. Today was our first rainy day of the summer, and that would be because in mid May we were still getting snow and had a few feet of it still on the ground. I was relieved to see the clouds and rain this morning, mostly because I had to stay inside and make some food for the weekend and for a potluck we are attending tomorrow. I busted out in the kitchen today and it felt good, because we've been living off lots of sandwiches and the quickest meals I can think of - as I haven't been up for hanging out indoors even by dinner time.
This week we had friends over and the kids played in the kid pool in the garden. We've been eating watermelon, cherries and homemade popsicles just about daily. This week we went to Chena Lake for a day. It is about a half hour drive from town. I went out swimming a few times and the water was perfect. I'm hoping to make it out there again in the next week or two, and not wait until next summer. We have learned to seek out our own picnic and swim spot away from the crowds. The very next day we were invited to go to the Tanana river to play with friends in the sand and water, and we went with it because that is what you do when it is a sunny ninety degree day in June
Tomorrow we are going to a Pentathlon (for 10 - 13 year olds with events for younger children as well), followed by a Greek potluck, put on by our Children of the Boreal Home-school Potluck and the greater Fairbanks Waldorf community. It is going to be an all afternoon and into the evening event. I baked two trays of baklava today with our own honey. I'm also taking goat feta and chevre with herbs and olive oil.
On Sunday we have been invited to a Solstice Raku kiln firing and potluck put on by a friend of ours. There will be pots there to glaze and fire. Then we are celebrating three birthdays in our family, with a big family dinner - (I'm separating cream and making ice-cream Sunday morning.) So, that is how we roll for Solstice weekend, jam packed family, friend and food fun. Home body that I am already looking forward to spending Monday and Tuesday with the kids in the garden and with the animals and not going anywhere or having anyone over.
Happy summer solstice to you wherever you are. May your days be sunny and hot!
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