Two weeks ago, about half of the KNOM staff worked the night shift for Iditarod. I found that my 6 p.m. – 6 a.m. shift was actually not that difficult, probably because I had spent most of my working (waking) hours in darkness for the past four months. What I was totally unprepared for was emerging, after the night shifts, into the light.
A mere seven days after the official equinox, Nome is flooded with over 13 hours of daylight, with a gain of around an hour per week. Right now, the sun rises late in the morning but doesn’t fully set until a little before midnight. This constant sunlight, which seemed to come on ridiculously quickly due to our overnight schedules, has thrown the KNOM volunteers into a state of full-on euphoria.
We haven’t talked about this a lot on the blog, but I know that my fellow volunteers and I found this winter to be difficult. We all dealt with the cold (but not cold enough) and dark in different ways: Tara and I made lists of activities to make sure that we got out of the house every weekend, Anna Rose picked up Zumba, Daynee wrote, and Zach became obsessed with mushing. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend my year in Nome with, because you truly have to be self-motivated to not succumb to winter depression. It would be really, really easy to sit inside all winter and mope, and I’m so proud of us all for not doing that.
But now it’s light outside! All the time! Twenty degrees and sunny is a lot different than twenty degrees and dark and snowing. Yesterday I took a five-mile walk, and as I came back to the house at 10 p.m. I passed Daynee, usually in bed by 9:30, just heading out. I don’t think it’s just us, either: the Nome-Golovin sidelines were packed with people last weekend, teenagers roam the streets after school, more cars are driving around, and Nome seems to be busier. The not-cold-enough-to-do-cool-stuff winter that trapped everyone inside is scaling back, and we’re all emerging into the light.