This post describes life, dressing and more in Interior Alaska in August where many things are quite different than in midlatitudes. Not only the lack of dog days.
- No Dog Days in Alaska
- When the Midnight Sun Shines 84 Days …
- … You Barely Switch on the Lights
- Nights, Aurora and Street Lights Have a Comeback
- August Means Fall and Harvest
- Finishing Summer Projects
- Back to School, But Not for All Students
- The State Fair Typically Has Fair Weather
- Social Distance Is the Norm Most of the Year
- Wrapping Up
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Important note: Terms indicated with * are explained in the High Latitude Style Glossary.
No Dog Days in Alaska
August brings the hot heat of summer in mid-latitudes and the challenge of dressing for the dog days. There is this running jokeAlaska has four seasons, June July, August and winter. #Alaska #lifestyle Click To Tweet
In Interior Alaska, August is the rain season. This means flip flops and rain gear at the beginning of the month. The heat low over the Interior, Yukon Territory, and Northwest Territory weakens in August and low pressure systems make their way into the mainland. Between low pressure systems, the moisture and still long insolation yields thunderstorm formation. While the rain extinguishes some wildfire, lightening strikes may still cause new ones. Summers in the Interior smell like a fire place.
The high cloudiness, humidity and notably shorter days as time progresses mean that temperature goes down as well. This means at sometime, the flip flops go and you wear your rain boots. At the end of August, temperature drops to uncomfortable values as now darkness at night lasts several hours. Then, even the first night frost may occur. Thus, Alaskan women have not to worry about how to look professional at a work meeting during the dog days.It unbelievable that in the land where there are more dogs than humans there are no dog days. #Alaska #curiosa Click To Tweet
Obviously, in the Interior dressing in August is quite different from what people wear in mid-latitudes. At the beginning of the month, a sun-protective jumpsuit like the LOTD is appropriate. A light knit jacket is needed by the middle of the month (see green-brown outfit later in this post). Coats or jackets and pantyhose are a Must by the end of the month (see black look later in this post). See my Alaska August lookbook for more looks.
Never worry again what to wear when. Just look it up in my style book How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.
When the Midnight Sun Shines 84 Days …
Imagine to live in a land with about 84 white nights with daylight followed by cutting about five to ten minutes every day after that until winter solstice. During those 84 days, you won’t need light, right? May be once in a while during a thunderstorm, but otherwise you walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night, not switching on the lights. Even the light in the fridge or oven is unneeded.
… You Barely Switch on the Lights
Of course during that time, the few times you actually switch on the lights, by accident or because a thunderstorm rolls thru town, bulbs die and you would not even notice. With a sudden in August, you need to switch on the lights when heading to the bathroom at night. OMG, no light! Or may be just one bulb left. Even worse when it happens in your walk-in closet! 😉
I am talking about real light bulbs, the one forbidden now in Germany, formerly sold as heat bulbs. The ones that have not toxic stuff in them. Alaskans call exchanging broken bulbs “celebrating the day of lights.”
This year, we replaced 17 bulbs! We first had to make a stop at the store. 😉
Nights, Aurora and Street Lights Have a Comeback
In mid August, enough daylight is lost that there are dark nights again and the aurora can again be seen in clear sky nights. It was there all summer, but during daylight you can’t see it. You only notice that the aurora is there because it disturbs your cell phone.
Also the street lights turn on again even when there is no dark thunderstorm. You bring your car to the shop to have the tires exchanged and to replace broken bulbs. While it’s the law to drive with head lights on, in town many don’t. However, comes the dark season, head lights are needed. Otherwise you only need them for safety when traveling unpaved roads and to not get into trouble with the police.
August Means Fall and Harvest
August is also the month when the leaves turn yellow and the end of the vegetation season. It is also the season for berry picking and collecting mushrooms. The berries have to be prepared for the freezer or be turned into jam.
Those Alaskans, who have a vegetable garden have to harvest and conserve their vegetables and fruits. When weather allows, they procrastinate as long as they can. Not because so much else is to do in August, but to take full advantage of the growing season. When frost is in the forecast, gardeners inform each other via social media, phone calls or texting. They cut the flowers and put them in vases and harvest the potatoes, carrots or whatever is still in the soil. At the end of the day, there are green tomatoes all over the kitchen counter.
Finishing Summer Projects
Since the first flurries can fly already in mid September, people also get very busy between rain to finish their outside summer house maintenance projects. Moreover, windows, doors, and pipes have to be made made winter-proof.
Back to School, But not for All Students
Most students go back to school in mid-August except of students from boarding schools. Boarding school students return to school after the hunting season so they can help their parents with hunting and butchering. Thus, their school year is a bit off. This means they graduate about 2-3 weeks later than most students, right in time for the onset of the fishing season.
The State Fair typically Has Fair Weather
On top of all the busy work to get Alaska grown food into storage, and finishing up projects, many fairs take place at various places in Alaska. The fairs provide Alaskans not only with entertainment like ferry wheels, karussels, music, concerts, dance shows, animal shows, and various competitions, but also with food to-go, clothes, machinery, art work, and Alaska harvest products.
Of course, everyone wants to spend at least a day at the fair. Tickets are sold for entrance. When you use some of the entertainment equipment like the ferry wheel, you have to pay for that in addition. Some people go to the fair on several days, i.e. buy several tickets, because they want to see certain shows or attend different competitions. Some shows, concerts and other events, and of course competitions are done just on one day of the fair. Thus, when you want to attend several different events, you have to bite the bullet of paying for an entrance ticket on several days of the fair.
For many rural Alaskans the fair is a great opportunity to sell their homemade products like art and bead work, buttons made from caribou antlers, beaded mukluks, wool or fur mittens, qiviut sweaters, scarves, and hats, home-made kuspuks*, and hunting trophies like antlers, stuffed dale sheep, moose, or caribou heads, fur, or whalebone. You can also buy smoked salmon and other delicious products made of salmon. Miners offer raw gems or when they collaborate with jewelers or work both professions jewelry made of their finds.
Of course, once in town, they stock up on non-perishable food and other products that are much more expensive – when available at all – at their local general store.
Social Distance Is the Norm Most of the Year
You probably wonder why Alaskans don’t skip going to the fair when their calendar is so full of very important and time sensitive work to be done? The fair is about meeting old friends. It attracts people from all over Alaska – people you only may see once or twice a year. It’s a meeting place. The fiddlers and those Alaskans who like to dance to fiddle music, for instance, won’t miss the day of the fair when the fiddlers play. They make friends there of whom they know they will not see them again before another big event that draws a lot of fiddlers to come into town. The ballroom dancers won’t miss the Dancing with The Fairbanks Stars.
At the Last Frontier, August weather, life and dressing are quite different from what you know from mid-latitudes like Germany, France, the Netherlands, or the Lower 48s. No wonder that Alaskan women only worry about what to pack for a summer business trip when they go out of state.
The busy schedule of finishing outdoor home projects, harvesting, preparing the house for winter, changing tires in preparation for the first snow and a full entertainment schedule plus preparing for the hunting season in September stresses people out. Thus, you often hear them saying that they can’t wait to get their lives back.
If you enjoyed this post, let your friends know tooSee what August means in Alaska. #Alaska #rainseason Click To Tweet
Would you enjoy August in Alaska? Let me know, I am curious.
P.S. Still wonder about the funny featured photo? I wanted to sit down on the rock and hadn’t seen that it has a slope to the other side. And my husband hadn’t seen it coming. 🙂
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
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