There are ways you know you have turned Alaskan. For one thing, when the weather goes strange on you, it can be perturbing. For Fairbanksans, a winter where the temperature stays above zero most of the time creeps us out. It's not natural. It's just plain wrong. We have had perhaps five days total where it was -20, and nothing colder than that, here, in a place where you can expect at least a week or more of -40, and some weekends of -50 or more. Not this winter. The squirrels never hibernated, and the birches never dropped seed. Sure, it was nice to just stick boots and coat and hat and gloves but stay in my pajamas underneath when I went out to walk the dogs. But it was weird to do that all winter. Or should I say "winter."
So there is one sign of being an Alaskan: you go out in your pajamas to walk the dogs when it's 20 degrees out.
Being obsessed with weather is another Alaskan trait. Sure, people talk about the weather everywhere, but up here we can go on for hours.
I'm a real Alaskan because I can step outside with two dogs on a leashes, while wearing pajamas and boots (and no coat, maybe a hat, probably not) and plug my car in while they go pee. And not get all tangled up in leashes and plug-in cord! That last is the real accomplishment! While I'm out there I can tell the temperature by the way my plug-in cord behaves. Then I can check my outdoor thermometer to see if I am right. I'm always right.
Live here long enough and you'll become a Salmon Snob. Copper River Red salmon is, in my book, the most delicious of all, though I've been told king salmon is even better. I have not had the luck to taste a king, but you won't see me getting excited over a silver. When the Salmon Bake down at Alaskaland started using silvers, I was angry and insulted!
When it finally snowed after around two months of weird winter and no snow, it made me unreasonably super happy. I posted on Facebook and Twitter about how happy I was about the snow. Out of ten people I asked, nine replied that they felt the same way. Most people outside of Alaska would think we were all crazy that we loved it to snow in March. My dogs were certainly overjoyed!
A given: in your freezer you have salmon, halibut, and moose, all wild caught/hunted. Bonus points for caribou, grouse, and beaver tail. And I'm not a hunter. People are generous and share. It's what we do.
I have at least six coats, three of which I should donate or give away because they have so much dog hair in the lining that it's like an extra bunch of insulation. The two coats I use are several years old and the zippers have become contrary, and tend to unzip from the bottom if I don't do it just right. I spent three weeks fixing the zipper on my biggest, warmest down jacket by a combination of using various pliers and other implements to squeeze the zipper parts back into some semblance of usability. Nothing would work until I added duct tape to the bottom zip holder to keep it in the right place.
I need that jacket! It's a survival issue! Parkas cost at least $200 and putting in a new zipper costs at least that much. I've resolved to buy what I've wanted for years, a Canada Goose parka. I think they cost about $600 now. Unless we start having stupid winters all the time. Then I can wear layers of flannel/wool or my crappy-but-expensive Columbia jacket. You know that commercial where someone is dunked in ice water and then they get "warmed up" by putting on the Columbia jacket with the shiny lining? Total crap. That coat is only good down to about zero, if that. If you aren't warm already, there is no way it would warm you up. Oh, and the zipper on that one has gone south, too. Definitely time for a new coat.
Gear: you'll buy it, lots of it, boots and gloves and hats and scarves and balaclavas, snow pants, carhartt everything and yes, coats and jackets and you'll have serious opinions about them! You'll have Stuff I Wear On The Snow Machine, and Stuff I Wear For Work, and Stuff I Wear for Skiing (or skijoring), and then there is the Emergency Clothing box in the car.
Another way you'll know you are Alaskan is you'll have a tiny house with way too much stuff in it. Accept it. Zen is not going to work in Alaska. Did you SEE the list of clothing above?
There are lots of key things that Alaskans say or do or have, but this isn't meant to be a comprehensive list. Just a Sunday meandering on the fact that I never want to move away from Alaska. When I went to New Mexico to visit my kids, I had this strange urge to wear my snow boots on the plane. I should have done it. When I got there it started snowing, snowed almost three feet and we were snowed in for four days. How did I know?