Alaska is known for being a winter wonderland. With deep snow, cold temperatures, and dark days, staying content during a long winter is important here in the last frontier.
Not everyone cares for winter. Many people would rather live in a warm climate and spend time at the beach year-round. Other people prefer a milder climate with just a hint of winter. And then there are those of us who love winter and don’t mind too much when it goes on and on for several months.
My husband and I are in the latter camp. We’ve lived in several different climates thanks to the Army, and have found our place. We weren’t fans of the beach, or the desert, or the wet winters of the midwest where we both grew up. But we have found that we love Alaska’s winters.
Being a military family, we are used to meeting people from all over. Not everyone is happy to be stationed here in Alaska but many, like us, are. In fact, we, along with other families we have met, are choosing to stay here and make it our permanent home.
But that’s not to say that winter doesn’t come without its challenges for us. Staying content during a long winter isn’t always easy, but it’s possible. These are some ways that our family gets through the long, dark days.
Find the Beauty in Winter
We have a large, scenic window at the front of our log home. The man who built this home certainly took care to put that window there. Not a day goes by that I don’t look out that window in wonder. The snow-covered trees are beautiful and the sunset is perfectly visible in the evenings.
Winter is a gorgeous season here in Alaska. The snow is so white and the sky full of color, all you need to do is look out your window and see it. Part of being content in any season is finding the beauty that is there.
Every season is amazing here where we live in its own way. But all of that snow that can be a burden (it needs to be plowed and shoveled and makes outdoor chores take twice as long) is so pretty. Seeing it that way makes it less overwhelming.
Enjoy Being at Home
Home sweet home. I’m a homebody, there’s no place I’d rather be. When I became a wife and then a mother, I decided (after reading some inspiring books by one of my favorite authors, Sally Clarkson) that I wanted to make our home a heaven on earth.
I wanted to create a place for my husband and our children that they would want to be. A place full of beauty, warmth, music, joy, and nourishment. Having a home that you love to be in makes a long winter not so bad. Here are some of the indoor activities that fill our time during the winter months.
Our girls love to read and so do I. Even though they are old enough to read novels on their own, we still enjoy doing read-a-louds together with some of our favorite books. Or everyone just curls up on the couch in front of the wood stove with their own books and we have some quiet time.
Spending time with real books instead of screens makes a difference. We don’t have a television in our main living area downstairs. There’s one upstairs in the loft and we occasionally watch movies on the weekends. But nothing beats a fluffy quilt and a favorite book.
During the summer (with no air conditioning) believe it or not, it gets pretty hot in our house. Well, hot to us northerners! So I limit my use of the oven and we enjoy the bounty of our garden for most meals. But when the temperature drops, the oven goes on and is in use just about everyday!
I love to bake and cook and the girls do as well. We make bread, cookies, pastries, pies, and all kinds of treats and hearty meals. This is also a good time to try new recipes and techniques. Everyone loves taste-testing and a home full of warmth and sweet smells.
Everyone should have a hobby, something they enjoying doing or creating. This is especially important during the winter when you’re inside so much. There are plenty of outdoor activities of course, but it’s nice to have an activity to look forward to when you’re spending more time indoors.
I learned how to knit a few years ago thanks to a skilled friend taking the time to teach me. I love getting local wool from a nearby homestead and making beautiful and useful creations like hats, cowls, and mittens. The girls enjoy sewing and they’re each working on a quilt for their beds this winter. (We love the log cabin pattern.) And my husband just finished building a rifle for hunting. We look forward to our evenings and working on our projects.
Everything might seem dead outside but there’s no reason why there can’t be life on the inside. Keeping some indoor plants adds some color and life and reminds us of the spring to come when there will be plants growing all over. Our oldest daughter has several plants on her windowsill, including an apple tree she is hoping to transplant in the spring. We’ll see how it turns out!
Although we enjoy winter and the slowness of the season, we definitely look forward to the days getting longer and the snow melting. But winter gives us lots of time to plan for the warmer months ahead. What we will grow in our garden, when to start seedlings, what projects need to be completed outside, cleaning out the barn, and eating freshly grown food again.
Staying Content During a Long Winter
Staying content during a long winter isn’t always easy but in the end, it’s a choice. Our attitude plays a big role as well as choosing to be grateful for the season that we’re in. We have found ways to enjoy our extra time indoors that work for our family.
Maybe there are other activities that your family enjoys. Board games, puzzles, home renovations, writing, drawing, and building Lego cities that span the length of the dining table are a few more activities that fill our winter months.
As long as we are all together, warm, and fed we can make it through the cold, dark days of winter.