I remember times when my father would come home from work smelling of dirt and cold and would tell us to get dressed quick so that we could go sledding or ice skating as new snow fell. I remember driving around small North and South Dakota and Minnesota towns in stranger's cars, being reckless and innocent and invincible in the aftermath of snow storms that would otherwise grind traffic to a halt and close the Interstates. I remember curling up with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a book with the table lamp burning all day, watching it snow while reading and just enjoying the moment away from responsibilities and the world in general.
The Alaska winter is a bit different than those I grew up with, though. Mostly it is the difference in the amount of light we get during the winter. There is something comforting in nightfall at 5 in the afternoon in December. There is something disconcerting about nightfall at 3 in the afternoon. The strangest thing is the quality of light in December here. Even if it is a bright, sunny day, if you were to take a picture and look at it later, you'd realize that the brightness you thought you saw wasn't so bright at all. Perpetual twilight. It can weigh on a person.
I think that, in some ways, my daily exposure to the elements, even though it is dark for both of my commutes, helps me to battle most of the winter blahs. Even so, I do notice that as the light grows dim, I get lethargic and grumpy.
Though, a good bike ride always makes me feel a bit better. I hope that my kids someday have fond memories of the times we spent together in the outdoors during the winter.