Tuesday, 14 August 2007

August 14, 2007 Signs Of Fall

It is that time of year that the signs of fall and it's successor, winter are starting to creep up on us. The odd trees are already being touched by brush strokes of yellow, the blueberries are thick and heavy on the branches - with bears, birds and humans packing them away for the winter in one way or another. Mornings are starting to get cool and we are back to (thankfully) pulling the down comforter over us each evening. Puttering through the woods on my 4 wheeler the other day I got a whiff of that wonderful earthy aroma that is fall's signature fragrance - but the one big thing up here that tells us that winter is approaching is the arrival of darkness. See for most of the summer, despite my habit of getting up ridiculously early, I rarely see the night sky.

Although we are not Alaska, on June 21st we experience 19 hours and 13 minutes a day of 'illumination' here in Athabasca. With the actual sunrise occurring at 3:56 AM and sunset at 9:14 PM.

December 21 we have a whooping 8 hours 44 minutes of illumination, with sunrise at 8:54 AM and sunset at 4:08 PM.

(All Data courtesy of http://www.hia-iha.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/sunrise_adv_e.html)

It is funny how the hours of light being taken over by dark just sort of creeps up on you without notice until some sort of break in your routine jars it to the front of your brain. This year, for me, it was the trip to Pennsylvania. The morning after getting home from there I was shocked to realize that now, rather then getting up to the morning rays of sun and chirping birds, when Mark's alarm went off at 4:30 AM, it was to silence and the night sky. Not a problem, both are beautiful things, but what was shocking was that I hadn't noticed it sneaking up on us.

The other night we were over at the Husch homestead for dinner and didn't get home to feed dogs until alittle after 9 PM (normally they are fed at 8 - and trust me, they were well aware that their dinner was late. It think Fly was trying to break into the house to call the SPCA to report the fact that we were out 'gallivanting' and they were all starving to death because of it!). By the time we picked up the last bowls and spend a few minutes visiting with the puppies, our little solar powered front lights were glowing away.

This morning as I sit in my office tapping away at my computer keys at 5:30, I can just make out the outlines of the trees against the lightening morning sky outside my window (yes, these are the same trees that are interfering with my satellite internet dish - but they are lovely to gaze out at).

Not that I'm complaining - darkness is the element of long distance sled dogs and long distance mushers. The return of the night sky means the return of dog teams in my life.

You often hear fall compared to a 'winding down' and winter compared to a sleep, an end - or even as horrible a thing as death. But here it is different. Fall is the rebirth,; winter is life. Fall is full of promise, hopes, dreams and plans - winter is our time.

I embrace and welcome back the darkness. It inspires me and starts the fire burning inside. Soon it will be winter - and that is what the dogs and I live for!


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