Cold Is a Good Thing

northern exposures

Forty-two below zero. Snow depth 8 inches.

Temperatures have been hovering around forty below for almost a week. The walks are invigorating. By the time I’m into my outdoor gear, I’m roasting and running for the door just to get outside where I can cool down and breathe. Our cabin stays about 70 degrees, so now when we step outside, the temperature instantly drops 115 degrees! Another of God’s mysteries – how does He make us so adaptable? Especially if you are a Texan?

The skies were clear at noon, and I could see the sun behind the trees. It appears only to be about 5 degrees above the horizon at zenith. The lack of sunlight has begun to play tricks with my mind. Sometimes I forget what time of day or night  it is, and it seems odd to walk home in the dark at 5 pm. There aren’t many people out and about. But if there is a reason to go somewhere, it really doesn’t stop anybody. We had a visiting planetarium show in our gym on Thursday evening, and 80 people walked to school to see it. It was 45 below that night. And you wouldn’t believe how the kids dress for this kind of weather; some dress warmly, but others go out way under-dressed, sometimes wearing little more than a “hoodie” sweatshirt, tennis shoes and a pair of gloves. I worry for them when they go out like that.

On Monday we will receive 500 live salmon eggs from the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Department, so this weekend I am making sure our aquarium is ready for them. They will arrive by plane (the only way) at about 6:30 pm, and must be brought inside and put in the tank immediately. If I am not there to get them and they are left on the runway (standard procedure), they will freeze and die. (how long would that take? – well, I set a Dr. Pepper in my open window at school to chill, and in 10 minutes the drink had turned to slush). Once in the tank, they must be kept at a constant temperature between 5 and 10 degrees C. If the tank freezes, they die. If the temperature rises above 12 C, they die. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, and salmon need lots of oxygen. Hence the narrow thermal tolerance. To make all this work, we have insulated the tank with 1 inch styrofoam all around, and we have a thermostatically controlled chiller that regulates the temperature. If our babies hatch, I’ll send pictures!

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