19 degrees and sunny.
Many sunny, pleasant days now. Clear skies, mostly. And signs of spring are appearing all over. Like the buds on the willows and aspen. They are ready to burst! Many rooftops have lost their cover of snow. Our cabin has not, thanks to its superior insulation. Our door doesn’t stick so badly anymore, and that is partly because it is warming up, but also because we learned a new trick. It’s called Crisco. Yes, the U.S.’s favorite cooking shortening makes a fine door un-sticker; just apply liberally to the door jam and edge of door. Slick! It retards ice buildup and reduces friction and binding.
There are other signs of spring, too. The stretches of open water, like creeks atop the Yukon, are very apparent now and growing larger everyday. The ice wedges in our window tracks have unfrozen and we can open the windows now. The days have grown long, sunny and (relatively) warm although we are not breaking the freezing mark yet. Many more people are out and about town. We are all drawn to the sunlight like light crazed moths, except in our case there is no downside to it. Most of the long coats have been put away and replaced by light jackets. Road traffic is increasing as people dig out their cars and begin to use them. The snow-packed roads are developing a slippery gloss from use and pretty soon I know I will slip and fall, just like last year about this time. It is inevitable.
The sound of snow machines whines late into the night, even into the wee hours of the morning. There is a village curfew on kids during the week, but we have only one constable here, and chasing errant children on long spring nights is not his greatest priority.
Skipping school is endemic this time of year. It is a major problem in our community during the final quarter, first because of the cultural activities like carnival, then because of federally mandated testing that interferes with classroom teaching, and finally because the geese will arrive soon and hunting season will begin. By the last week of school, we may have only half our secondary students. Hunting is essential to our culture and is considered an excused absence. This is a cultural phenomenon, one I understand, even sympathize with and accept. But without a doubt, many rural Alaskan students fail to master reading, writing and arithmetic because communities do not teach their children that their education must come first. There must be room for children to learn their cultural heritage and also succeed in school.