by Anniel 12/28/16
Autumn Equinox overtook us in September before we knew it. We lost light rather quickly in our journey about the sun, then, finally, we could make out stars again, and the moon’s waxing and waning became more visible. The four or five days of Winter Solstice crept s-l-o-w-l-y our way, along with Christmas, the celebration of our Savior’s birth.
Winter Solstice officially ended today, three days after Christmas, we gained our first second of precious light. Now we slog through weeks of only a few seconds a day added to us. Of course this means that where people walk upside down they are headed the other direction, towards darkness. It’s not nearly as much fun as going for the joy of light.
The Northern Lights are very different this year. We are hearing reports of lights in hues that no one, not even 90-year-old village elders, have ever seen before. The sun has been silent. There have been no solar storms or flares to account for the auroras. I saw a photo on spaceweather.com, but it no longer appears on the site. No, I have never seen such auroral colors in my almost 57 years of living here. Everyone is fascinated by them. Mystery auroras indeed. What would cause such pinks and whites to be so very bright and startling? There may be more on this later, or the mystery is solved and I just haven’t heard.
Places north of our home will be adding light even more slowly than we do in Anchorage. The people in Barrow are waiting out their darkness with an old name.The town is now officially called Utqiagvik, its Inupiaq name. The northernmost community in the United States has officially restored its original name. In October, the people of the Alaskan town formerly known as Barrow, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, voted to restore its indigenous name, Utqiagvik, as of December 1, 2016.
Utqiagvik, “The Place of Clay,” will welcome the sun back on January 22, 2017.
As far as I hear the name change barely passed and it’s no big deal to most of the residents, they interchange the names every day. I have no idea how to properly pronounce it, so I will stick with Barrow. No, I don’t know what color or kind of clay they have, either.
The Polar Bears seem fine, and some glaciers are growing while others are not, as usual. The North Pole is still frozen and wandering around in the cold at the top of the world.
Our biggest export from the Arctic this year is apparently the fairly recently discovered Polar Vortex, again. If you have been on the receiving end of our gift of snow and cold, “You’re welcome,” and we’ll see if we can do it more efficiently next year, since we will have had more practice. So button up your overcoat, there’s still a lot of winter left in 2016 and into the New Year of 2017, arrival expected in a few days, with one extra second included to keep the calendar straight.
Happy New Year! Blessings to you as you consider your resolutions. Remember to thank our Creator God for each new opportunity granted you as we head, once more, for Spring Equinox.
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