“That sounds brutal,” the Soupster commiserated over the phone with his friend Tilly from Oklahoma.
“Eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit at midnight last night,” said Tilly. “It may hit 105 today.”
“Incredible,” said the Soupster from Our Town. (duh!) “It’s supposed to be 55 here – 50 degrees cooler.”
“Sounds wonderful,” said Tilly. “But I’m sure you pay for it with a long, frigid winter.”
“Nope,” said the Soupster, smugly. “Thirties and forties most of the winter, below 20 degrees hardly ever.”
“I thought Alaska was really cold,” Tilly said.
“Alaska is big,” said the Soupster. “Our Town is far south of the Arctic Circle and warmed by a Japanese current. Mild in the winter and mild in the summer. That is, mildly warm and mildly cool.”
“That’s not what I heard,” said Tilly. “My friend Margaret was in Sitka on a cruise on the Fourth of July and she said it was freezing. `Bless those people in the winter, if that was the summer,’ she said.”
“Might have dropped into the high forties on Independence Day that year,” the Soupster allowed. “But then again, the temperature could have been exactly the same on that year’s New Year’s Day. “
“If the temperature doesn’t change, how do you know what season you’re in?” asked Tilly.
“By the light,” said the Soupster. “The long, long nights of summer – the light goes on shockingly long if the clouds blow off. The inky nights of winter, when the sky and sea and the land are all covered by the same black blanket. And then the twice-yearly journey back and forth between the extremes.”
“I’m sure you miss a hot summer day,” Tilly said.
“Oh, Our Town gets hot enough, for me,” the Soupster answered. “I swear Alaska must be closer to the sun, because when the sun does shine, it feels unusually strong. If Old Sol is bright and the temperature hits 70, lots of folks here complain that it’s too hot.”
“Seventy Fahrenheit? Too hot? Now, that’s incredible,” said Tilly.
“What I find incredible are the low and high temperatures listed for Our Town on the TV Weather Channel,” said the Soupster. “There’s usually just a few degrees difference between the high temperature and the low. Sometimes, the high and low listed are the same exact temperature. And every once in a long while – usually in the spring or fall — the low for the day will be warmer than the high temperature for that same day.”
“Don’t joke me, Soupster,” said Tilly.
“No, really,” said the Soupster. “I think they just measure the lowest temperature at night and call it the low, then they measure the highest temperature during the day and call it the high. They don’t realize that in this crazy place, sometimes it’s warmer at night!”