I’m back in Fairbanks and life is bright! This morning, by 3:12, the sun was already pinking the sky into bacon strips, and tonight our Interior Alaskan orb won’t even think of setting until 12:28 a.m., tomorrow. That’s about 21 hours and 16 minutes of daylight, although the darkness we associate with night in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t exist here in the summer since the sun barely dips below the horizon. Here’s an unedited photo I shot at 2:30 this morning.
See what I mean? You’d think with so much sun we’d never sleep, but blackout shades keep us snoozing like hibernating bears until the alarm goes off, or until our new grandbaby, g, coos us awake.
This kind of sun produces Frankenveggies, of course, like the nearly 60-pound cabbages on display at the Tanana Valley Fair each year or the prodigious heads of romaine lettuce that can easily feed a family of 10 for a week. The sea of lawn outback at our house grows so fast that, for entertainment, I’ve actually watched the blades stretch, and if my son-in-law, C, needs to he can mow it down to the cuticle at 10 p.m. when the light is still bright as noon.
Little r (who is nearly four) and I, slathered with sunscreen and bug juice, and well-hatted, have been hanging out at the float pond’s beach each day with our three buckets, one shovel, a backhoe loader and a dump truck. We build castles, dig trenches, cook heart-shaped rock pizzas which r always declares, “Too spicy, Gooma!”
Maybe because the sun is crazy intense in the summer, little r loves to wear the big blue bucket on his head. He’s clever like that. I tried wearing the orange pumpkin bucket, but it wouldn’t fit, even with r pushing down and pounding as hard as he could.
“Wanna trade, r, since your head is smaller?” I asked.
“No way! My head is growing fast. I need a BIG bucket, Gooma. Anyway, you have a hat on your head, silly!” So did he under his bucket, but never mind.
After we rescued wild “stick-snakes” from drowning in the pond, caught imaginary purple trout using twig fishing poles, watched families of mallards swim by and several float planes take off,
I suggested we gather spruce tips from the little trees dotting the hill above the beach. r, who had by now tossed the blue bucket onto the sand, was familiar with the spruce tip drill from our adventures last year. He grabbed a smaller red bucket, scurried up the hill in his bare feet and set to work snapping off lime green tips and immature prickly cones until his bucket was full. And then, sun blazing directly overhead, we ran back to the house and made our tea, though. if I’d been more clever, we might have solar-boiled it outdoors in the big blue bucket.