North Wapiti Siberian
Iditarod 2008 - Tales from the Trail
August 14, 2007
Signs Of Fall
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
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
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
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!
Karen's Diary - Iditarod 2008 Edition
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