In A City Without Seasons

The One Am Radio, a favorite band of mine, recently released their new album, ‘Heaven is Attached by a Slender Thread.’ One of the tracks has particularly ‘hit home’ as they say, with its considerations of the passage of time. Likely meant to illustrate the unchanging weather of Los Angeles, Hrishikesh Hirway, the frontman, sings “it’s hard to measure time in a city without seasons…  in a city you don’t believe in.” However, I have found it increasingly poignant as a description of the last 7 or so months in this peculiar city of Anchorage.

Anchorage seems to have two seasons.  The first, cold and dry, and then a second in which presumably it gets warmer and might rain a bit.  I haven’t seen this second season yet.

We arrived in September and literally drove through fall as we came north through British Colombia and the Yukon.  It happened quickly – three or for days at most – as we drove the leaves turned and dropped as the miles turned on the odometer. It was still sunny and warmish in Anchorage when we finally arrived, but the leaves were gone, the grass was browning, and the nights were dropping to near freezing temperatures. Before I knew it, thick treaded shoes, boots, wool hats, scarves, and thick coats were always on; sweaters and smartwools were simply an everyday necessity to keep from catching a cold. Warm soups, root vegetables, and carbs kept us going; seat heaters remained in the ‘HIGH’ position for our commutes.

It grew darker and darker, until the only sunlight I would see would be through my window at work for a few hours around lunch time. My walk to the office and return home would be as dark as midnight, with the city bustling as if it was rush hour…. because it was. Winter is practically October to May (by New England standards – meaning cold enough for things to freeze and stay frozen), and when half of your year is dark and cold and dead… you start to feel that way a bit too.

I’d imagine that had I not been required to stay up and work as if it were a ‘normal’ day, where the sun ought to rise and set in the morning and evening, respectively, and not the middle of the day, my feelings would have been different. Perhaps if Natalie and I did not live with friends – busy, dissimilar friends – or if I did not return from work to tackle a Master’s degree thesis and various artistic and personal projects, my feelings would have been different. Perhaps if I were able to hibernate during the darkness, I would emerge this month as a renewed person, for the sun now shines for a more ‘reasonable’ period of time during April.

But this has not been the case. Instead time has rushed by, and I find myself with feelings of regret that I did not do as much as I had wanted to, or hoped to. I feel the long dark coldness has kept me from some sort of truth or utility. I feel bothered by this city, which pretends it exists in a four-season, temperate climate zone. I’m bothered by the paved roads, which each spring reveal their inability to become cased in ice and snow for six months while studded tires shred their surface and frost swells and buckles its form. I’m bothered by the glass monoliths of the downtown, for which you can see the heat waving in blurred lines on the surface of its insufficiently insulated windows and walls. I’m bothered that you can buy a tomato for $5 a pound in January during -10 degree weather, and that it was shipped for high cost and energy from somewhere warm.

Why do we try to sustain ourselves unsustainably? How can I believe in this city without seasons – this city that does not recognize its own seasons; its own climactic bounds?

The One Am RadioIn A City Without Seasons”

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