When you live in a place that has such extreme weather, you become more connected to the cycles of the Earth. Here in the Yukon, we have lovely, though short, summers, and long dark winters. Even the most urban Whitehorse resident has an obsession with the weather. How cold, how hot, and if you live here long enough, you do become an expert, even if it’s in your own mind! I’ve actually started buying the Farmer’s Almanac myself, mostly in an effort to become a better gardener! This year’s forecast calls for hot and dry, which is bad for forest fires, but we’ve had a few rainy summers in a row and hot and dry is definitely going to be welcome.
One of my favourite things about living in the Yukon is Summer Solstice, or as some of us like to call it, the Longest Day of the Year. The sun does go down, but it doesn’t really get dark, just dusky, and only for an hour or two. By the time June 21st rolls around, we get about 20 hours of daylight,then it turns around and we start to lose 3 minutes of daylight a day. This eventually leads us to the Winter Solstice on December 21st, the Shortest Day of the Year, at which point we’ll have the opposite, about 5 hours of daylight. Not quite as exciting, I can tell you!
Although the daylight is truly awesome and it seems like there are more hours in the day to get things done, all that light messes with a lot of people, including my kids. I moved to the Yukon as a kid in the ’80’s, so I remember what it was like not being able to sleep in the summer. My parents used to put tin foil on our windows for pretty much the duration of the summer. We also had black out blinds as another defense against the light.
Nowadays, I put tinfoil on the kids windows with a thick blanket over top. It works, as well as it can. My boy, though, he always knows when the sun comes up, even when it comes up at 4am. He is constantly turned down to his question of can we get up now? No way! I don’t care if it’s light out! It’s always light out, dammit! I don’t know how much sleep other parents are getting right now, but it’s not going very well around here!
I have resorted to the hardest sleeping drug I can handle without being completely groggy the next day; Sleepy Time tea. That’s all I can handle, and sometimes, shockingly, it’s just not enough. Oh, I do love the long days, but by the end of summer, I’ll be ready for the blessed darkness!