Anchorage passed a key point in the year today. From sunrise to sunset is 16 hours, meaning there is 8 hours of night. We have passed into the period where you can sleep during “nighttime”. Sure there is twilight going on, but in the last couple of weeks we have moved out of the time of year when it never really gets dark. Now, it is dark for hours. In fact, I started using lights in my house again. It’s actually the time of year where I learn that I don’t turn off lights enough — because it is bright enough in the evening that I may turn on a light and not notice it is still on until about 2AM when the darkness outside makes that closet light a laser beam into my eyes.
With the return of darkness there returns something you don’t know you miss until it’s back. Sunrises and Sunsets. For the most part, the sun heads down quite unremarkably at the end of the day. We can catch a day or two when it sneaks behind Mt. Susitna, a large glacial remnant as it silhouettes the sleeping lady across the Anchorage bowl. The colors it brings, all with its yellows and oranges, are nice and comforting, if not warm for the summer eve.
What really stands out are the sunrises. This time of year is also the start of our rainy season. While it isn’t raining constantly, the threat is there constantly with grey clouds hanging overhead day in and day out. We also start seeing Chinooks from the Chugachs – or huge breaks in the clouds at the edge of the mountains where varying pressure by changes in elevation plays with the saturation of the sky.
What that REALLY means is that when the sun comes up this time of year, the sky is lit aflame. The reds and oranges from the rising sun pierces through the clouds to the west of the mountain tops well before it breaks over the rocks itself. It streaks between the grays, the blacks, the whites; influencing the hues with it’s new morning light. Every morning, as I start my day, I look up out to the east and watch the new colors between the spaces of sky where the clouds start and where the night ends. While one could argue this is just another sign that we are a step closer to the end of summer and the beginning of winter, I’ll take this burning air. It is the color and beauty the sky can create if you just get a chance to see it at the right time. And that is something to hold onto for as long as you can.