Life in Alaska

The Alaskan - Why We Love the Cold!

Written by
Laura Lowdermilk

Understanding the Alaskan way, mind, and soul

“Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey...” 
Jack London


For these tough winter days “exceedingly cold and grey” here are some easily forgotten, but perfectly valid, reasons to love Alaska’s most unlovable trait—the cold.

A favorite cold secret to start with is that freezing temperatures preserve stuff. The frozen cooler or unplugged freezer parked on the back porch is an Alaskan staple where, handily, we store our meat and other favorite staples, like ice cream. Just don’t forget to plug the freezer back in come spring!

Unexpectedly, cold weather, especially the sub-zero cold, makes certain chores easier. Dry powdery snow might be terrible for building snowmen, but it is lighter and easier to shovel. Chopping firewood is much easier when the logs are frozen solid. It doesn’t exactly make sense, but the effect is real and spectacular (to the person doing the chopping). One sharp blow with even the most indifferent ax and massive logs just crack apart, each half springing back from the other as if shocked by their new and sudden otherness. With a warm hat and well-insulated gloves, a stack of hard-frozen firewood splits much faster than in summer when the softer wood clings to itself. It’s an interesting phenomenon to ponder, for the Alaskan who is stuck outside on woodpile duty.

The next time a chill wind (or the thought of your frozen woodpile) draws a shiver out of you, just remember all the creepy crawly things that Alaskans don’t have to deal with, thanks to our cold snaps. Snakes, scorpions, and most poisonous spiders (including black widows) would all die a miserable icy death if they tried to infiltrate my backyard. That knowledge is deeply comforting to me each winter! Alaska’s cold has the same effect on many noxious plants, including poison ivy. Gardeners and hikers can rejoice!

Severe cold weather also helpfully dries stuff out by literally freezing moisture out of the air. There are definite cons to this (ice fog, chronic dry skin, etc…), but there are pros to be found, if you spend enough time out at the woodpile thinking about it. Laundry and dishes dry faster. Mold can’t survive where the humidity plunges as relentlessly as the thermometer. Cold dry air delivers all the benefits of a desert-climate, without the tarantulas. Plus, the door to your cabin doesn’t stick shut so badly in the winter, because the wooden door frame shrinks just enough to let you think the door doesn’t need fixing just yet, that is until spring humidity swells it out again.  

This last Alaskan cold secret hides deep in the very cells of our bodies. Alaskans burn more calories during the winter doing everyday activities, a comfort during the deluge of post-holiday fad-diets. Just checking the mail in sub-zero temps puts Alaskans ahead of every other warm-climate dweller in calorie expenditures. If a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a unit of water by one degree, just imagine how many calories the typical Alaskan burns just to keep from freezing to death! 

Speaking of calories, another cold-climate phenomenon is the large amount of ice cream and other high-calorie treats Alaskans eat every winter. The colder it gets, the more calories we crave. Don’t believe me? Just ask the guy chopping firewood at -20°F, then imagine what a bowl of ice cream might do for his attitude when he’s done! 


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The Alaskan - Why We Love the Cold!

Life in Alaska

Author

Laura Lowdermilk

Understanding the Alaskan way, mind, and soul

“Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey...” 
Jack London


For these tough winter days “exceedingly cold and grey” here are some easily forgotten, but perfectly valid, reasons to love Alaska’s most unlovable trait—the cold.

A favorite cold secret to start with is that freezing temperatures preserve stuff. The frozen cooler or unplugged freezer parked on the back porch is an Alaskan staple where, handily, we store our meat and other favorite staples, like ice cream. Just don’t forget to plug the freezer back in come spring!

Unexpectedly, cold weather, especially the sub-zero cold, makes certain chores easier. Dry powdery snow might be terrible for building snowmen, but it is lighter and easier to shovel. Chopping firewood is much easier when the logs are frozen solid. It doesn’t exactly make sense, but the effect is real and spectacular (to the person doing the chopping). One sharp blow with even the most indifferent ax and massive logs just crack apart, each half springing back from the other as if shocked by their new and sudden otherness. With a warm hat and well-insulated gloves, a stack of hard-frozen firewood splits much faster than in summer when the softer wood clings to itself. It’s an interesting phenomenon to ponder, for the Alaskan who is stuck outside on woodpile duty.

The next time a chill wind (or the thought of your frozen woodpile) draws a shiver out of you, just remember all the creepy crawly things that Alaskans don’t have to deal with, thanks to our cold snaps. Snakes, scorpions, and most poisonous spiders (including black widows) would all die a miserable icy death if they tried to infiltrate my backyard. That knowledge is deeply comforting to me each winter! Alaska’s cold has the same effect on many noxious plants, including poison ivy. Gardeners and hikers can rejoice!

Severe cold weather also helpfully dries stuff out by literally freezing moisture out of the air. There are definite cons to this (ice fog, chronic dry skin, etc…), but there are pros to be found, if you spend enough time out at the woodpile thinking about it. Laundry and dishes dry faster. Mold can’t survive where the humidity plunges as relentlessly as the thermometer. Cold dry air delivers all the benefits of a desert-climate, without the tarantulas. Plus, the door to your cabin doesn’t stick shut so badly in the winter, because the wooden door frame shrinks just enough to let you think the door doesn’t need fixing just yet, that is until spring humidity swells it out again.  

This last Alaskan cold secret hides deep in the very cells of our bodies. Alaskans burn more calories during the winter doing everyday activities, a comfort during the deluge of post-holiday fad-diets. Just checking the mail in sub-zero temps puts Alaskans ahead of every other warm-climate dweller in calorie expenditures. If a calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a unit of water by one degree, just imagine how many calories the typical Alaskan burns just to keep from freezing to death! 

Speaking of calories, another cold-climate phenomenon is the large amount of ice cream and other high-calorie treats Alaskans eat every winter. The colder it gets, the more calories we crave. Don’t believe me? Just ask the guy chopping firewood at -20°F, then imagine what a bowl of ice cream might do for his attitude when he’s done! 


No items found.

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