by James
(Jacksonville, FL, USA)

If I lived in north Alaska, summer would be much cooler than it is for me now. I would be able to wear long pants and close-toed shoes all year. There would still be snow visible above the treeline, as a constant reminder that this is just a reprieve from the normal weather, a long summer day that serves as both counterweight to and reminder of the long summer nights.

Most of all, summer would be short, and it would have a bittersweet quality, the way snow does on the fantastically rare occasions that it falls in Florida. It would be a brief reprieve from something so omnipresent that I would have gotten used to it: the solitude and quiet of deep winter, the woods empty, the pines weighed down by snow. In a place where winter nights eventually coalesce into one unending winter night, the brief respite of summer, and of the peak of summer when the sun does not set. In this time, animals would crawl out of their lairs, bears awakening and rabbits mating to get their numbers up for the coming winter. I would hunt, because the north of Alaska is a place where you must hunt, and I would fish while the ice that encrusted the rivers melted, allowing me to fish in the cool water.

And I would walk, and play in the sun, and work outside, and not take the summer for granted. After months of struggling and worrying about being snowed in, after months without day, I would be glad to see the sun, and it would have meaning that it lacks for me now. I would gather supplies, I would be frugal, I would live like the local animals, gathering food and water and life itself for the long winter to come.

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