“I hate summer. My winter clothes and animal hats want to be liberated NOW.” This is what I told a friend as I suffered from heat stroke last summer. I daydreamed of snow and wind and of a frozen land up north, and guess what? I got it.
This is my first winter in Nome. Today, there were exactly four hours of daylight. It was 18 below (not negative, BELOW) but I hear it was 24 below when Lucus arrived at the studio. I wear at least two layers of clothing at all time and consume more tea and hot chocolate than should be legally allowed. I own my first heavy jacket, snow pants, and bunny boots. I love it.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all hot cocoa and sitting by a fire. Every city or town has its problems, but winter presents unique challenges for life in rural Alaska. Right now, alcohol abuse and suicide are big issues here. And it’s hard on a lot of families, but there are also people who want to help.
What I like most about Nome is the amount of courage and love I see from seemingly average individuals going out of their way to help those in need. I see it in the volunteer ambulance department, in the schools, in the many organizations around town. At KNOM. I see how willing people are to lend an ear when you need to talk, provide comfort, support, or give you an extra hand when the heat in your house gives out. I see how willing people are to share their game, invite you into their home, share their stories.
Every day I see people trying to help people. They don’t do it out of guilt or because it’s the holiday season. They do it because they want to, and they do it year round.
Living in a bigger city I used to joke that what I liked most about my neighbors was that I expected them to be cold and suspicious of me and I would return the favor. Living in Nome, I am learning to do the opposite.
Nome and KNOM are becoming my home. Walking down Front St and seeing the star on top of the FM transmitter from afar make me feel all happy and warm inside and fills me with hope. It sounds corny, I know, but it really does. I am filled with hope. I am forming amazing friendships and learning to appreciate what everyone must do for a city or village to not only survive, but flourish, despite whatever comes our way.
Winter is coming. But I’m ready… are you?