At the request of some Facebook friends I spent about a week in late December taking a series
of pictures showing the retreating daylight hours.
Some of them were people who used to live here — friends and former students. They wanted to remember what it was like.
Other requests were from people as far away as Germany, South Africa, and Australia, who were curious about what winter solstice in the Yukon looks like.
The resulting lens-flared shots of the sun peeking from behind various buildings, over the edges of the surrounding hills, and through trees covered with hoarfrost, would have made JJ Abrams proud.
Once I posted them, I was gratified by the number of people who “liked” these images.
Now that we are a month past solstice — on the other side of the darkness, heading toward light — I’ve been posting a few shots of the returning sunshine, but looking for scenes that aren’t exactly the same as the ones I did a month ago. After all, advancing sunlight looks similar to the retreating kind.
Winter days in Dawson aren’t always clear and sunny. There are days when the skies are overcast, and the little light shines indirectly, filtered through the clouds. But one day last week the sky was startlingly blue, and the sun reflected brilliantly off the trees on the bank just across the Yukon River; a scene visible from my front porch. The image was a very appealing blend of silver and gold.
This is a seasonal phenomenon that lasts for a few weeks on either side of the solstice. It’s funny that the phenomenon signals the coming of darkness in December, while also hailing the return of light in January.
It’s just as beautiful at either time of the year, yet it is a much more positive experience in the New Year.
Be that as it may, it’s a sight I’ve always enjoyed. When I was teaching, I was fortunate to have a classroom window facing those hills and I came to enjoy them then. Happily, the front of our house also faces in that direction, so I still get to bask in the same sight eight years later.
A few days after this, I noticed the Waterfront Park bathed in a pale light and noticed saw that there was enough sunlight to cause the Front Street shops to cast grey shadows to the west, a sure sign of returning light.
We’ve had a mostly pleasant winter so far — just a couple of weeks in the -30°C’s and a lot of the time in minus single-or-teen digits.
Every day like this is another really cold day we won’t have to bundle up for, and every day brings us back a little more light.