I am still waiting for winter. Disregard the fact that I have about a foot of snow and more at my place. Other than that, this does not feel like Alaskan winter. I think we've imported Michigan winter. Granted, it might not be winter in Michigan yet, but the winters of my Michigan youth seem to be appearing here, in present-day Interior Alaska.
It's been above zero most of the "winter." This, in itself, is creepy. When you are used to temperatures of -20°F in November, or at least -10°F, you begin to prepare yourself in August, when Alaska has its Fall. Often we get a Test Snowfall mid-September, where a foot or more of snow might suddenly dump on us, and we all sort of freak out, because winter is a long endurance test, and we don't want to endure it more than usual. However that snow invariably melts away and we all give a collective sigh of relief, but go back into our homes and unpack our winter gear and mentally prepare ourselves for the long, dark cold.
A few years ago I was standing around at a friend's outdoor birthday barbeque in full winter gear and three feet of snow on April 10. That was the year we thought winter would never end.
This year, however, it seems as if winter will never start. I think we've had about five days, total, and not all in a row, where the temperatures dropped below zero. I have had to plug my freezer back in while at the same time having to plug in my car so it will be warm enough to start. This is just plain wrong! Not to mention that most of the time I don't even have to plug my car in at all.
My freezer is in my shed, where all good Alaskan freezers are. I unplug it in the winter because why waste good electricity when it's -10 outside? I only plug the freezer in when it gets to be around 30°above. So far I've had to plug it in and then unplug it a bunch of times.
Yesterday it was supposed to be 32° and I am extremely happy to report that my freezer is still unplugged and it never got above 21° yesterdays.
This warm weather is making everyone nervous now. However I have had a nice day outside, anyway. Chores accomplished incude:
1. Burned all the paper trash in the burn barrel.
2. Took the dogs out for deep snow vole hunting, and basic snow frolicking. (I know you all want pictures but it is impossible for me to hold a camera and two leashes while navigating deep snow. I need a headlight cam!)
3. Finally got the box of meat I bought from our local butcher (Home Grown Market) and put it in the freezer. At least it's been below freezing so that it was safe riding around in my trunk for two weeks. How many of you can say you can put off putting meat away like that! Ha!
4. Hung up two suet feeders on trees so that the woodpeckers will go for those, instead of peckering away at my house. Actually, it might not stop them, because they are hiding sunflower seeds in my siding. And no, there aren't any bugs in my walls.
All in all I was outside on and off for a couple of hours and wore only one layer and a coat, hat and gloves, and took the gloves off a lot, in the interest of not setting myself on fire when I lit the matches for the burn barrel.
Despite having fun today, I remain nervous about this weather. They guy who fills up my water tank called me, and told me that it was raining at his house. This is NOT good. Plus he only lives a few miles away. We normally don't have to deal with freezing rain after Freeze Up.
Wait. I don't think we've finished with Freeze Up yet! Bizarre, truly bizarre. The dogs can still dig holes i the back yard. I was digging the gate out with a shovel just this morning!
If it doesn't get cold enough to kill the main population of hibernating mosquitoes and hornets, we will be in for an unbearable and frighening summer.
If it doesn't get cold enough the bears will wake up and be hungry. Not a good thing, either.
This entire ecosystem is adapted for intense, deep cold. The winters have been warming now for a while. The pioneers who are still alive tell me that it used to be -40 most of the winter. Now we only get that a few weeks of most winters.
The advance of the bark beetles and leaf miners has everything to do with global warming and they are destroying and injuring millions of acres of trees. Whole forests are dead.
If you are a woman you might understand how I feel about this winter. It is like when you miss a period, and you know you aren't pregnant. It might be because you are ill, or stressed. You think you ought to be happy to be spared the agony of cramps and all that just for once, but there is this nagging, weird feeling of being out of balance, that something is wrong, not right, of kilter... and you can't really enjoy the respite.
It will be interesting to see how winter finally comes in this year...if it does....