One Man's Paradise

Adventures at -36° F

I know it’s cold when my nose hair freeze the moment I set foot outside my cabin. Walking on snow sounds like walking on Styrofoam.

Below -30 degrees the metal doorknob on the inside of the cabin tries to stick to my hand when touched. Another cabin is locked with key lock, so I have to punch 4 small pins with my bare fingers. This is painful and the skin turns quickly white.

My truck would not start, despite being plugged in and fully charged batteries…

March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb

English proverb

Today, all is forgotten. At 10 degrees life becomes agreeable, even those frozen batteries come back to life.

Stay warm.

Inside Out

Sunday Morning

The sun rises now at 8:30 in the morning, like me. I am not an early morning person, but 8:30 I can do. She rises now 14 degrees above the horizon and begins to charge my solar system, so I can use the lights inside, when it gets dark at about 18:00.

In between, I shovel snow, explore possible excursions into the back country, bake bread and make my favorite dishes, as long as I can find the right ingredients in my pantry.

“Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.”

Elfriede Jelinek

After last weeks storm has cleared, the skies are clear and the temperatures crisp.

Sunday mornings bring back color.

Life is good.

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise


Let that one sink in, slowly.

You thought you heard every word in the English language? How about that one?

It’s one of the longer words in the English language and it is something made up, nonsensical they call it.

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough you’ll always sound precocious:

Anthony Kenward Drewe / George William Stiles / Kenward Drewe Anthony / Richard M. Sherman / Robert B. Sherman / William Stiles George

What does it mean? Just, great.

Alright, have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious weekend.

One Man's Paradise


“the comfort of reclusion, the poetry of hibernation”

Marcel Proust

I like the word hibernation. It implies that the whole nation is in a state of reduced activity due to low temperatures and reduced daylight. Off course there are exceptions, thinking of mushers, sled dogs, skiers, and snow shovelers…

Plants don’t hibernate, they are dormant. That’s what the textbooks say. I don’t like that word, as it implies they are sleeping. I don’t picture plants as sleeping.

Anyways, obviously I have too much time and not enough daylight on my hands. So, all I have are these burned spruce trees that are neither hibernating nor dormant. They are dead. Gone in a blink of an eye, what took tens of years to grow. The charred trunks will stand for a long time, before wind and decay will knock them over. Give it another 100 years and there may be a boreal forest as before. Only to repeat the cycle until…

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise

Into the Cold

Amazing journeys we can take these days. From the desert to the Arctic Circle within a few hours, give or take a couple of nights at airports that are open 24 hours a day. Not like the old explorer days, where an expedition began in a port, where you had time to adjust.

So it comes as a bit of a shock to be suddenly exposed to the gruel harshness of the arctic winter. It isn’t even that cold, just -30F, not even close to the -42F of last year. But I feel cold. Softened by the desert “winter”.

The sights however are amazing. Spruce trees covered with a thick coat of snow. How do they survive these months of darkness and howling winds? A miracle.

I was greeted by a starry sky and an active aurora borealis. Welcome, looking forward to seeing you a couple more times. Please come in your rarely seen red variety. I am ready to forgo sleep and spend a night outside to experience that.

We gain 6 minutes of daylight, every day. A few more months and life will be back in full swing. This change from frozen solid to exuberance is an annual wonder.

Wouldn’t want to miss it, numb fingers and cold feet included.

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise

Living with bears


It must have been a lean year for the bears around here. A dismal blueberry harvest makes for hungry bears in the Interior. For more than a week grizzlies and black bears have been roaming through our little hamlet, searching for any food scraps or things that look like it. Outdoor BBQs were overturned, so were potted herbs. Even bear-proof trash cans were attacked. I have seen bears on my front porch in the middle of night. Not a comforting sound to hear scratching claws…. They could easily break into the cabin. The bears have become increasingly destructive. Not a good sign. One more month before they go into hibernation. If they keep roaming through the village, destroying property, ignoring human presence, they will get destroyed.

That’s life in the Arctic.

One Man's Paradise

Closing days

Swirls of yellowish birch leaves tumble down to the ground. There are already more leaves on the ground than left on the trees. I cannot tell the difference between dead and resting birch trees anymore. That’s it for hardwood tree cutting this year.

Mountain tops are sugar white. Just a smidge of dark, dark red is left. Yellow and brown dominate the color palette.

At night I am woken twice by a noxious young bear, rummaging for food.

The soft season in Alaska comes to a close. Time to prepare for winter.

It’s raining leaves

One Man's Paradise

Surf’s Up

A winter storm advisory was in effect this weekend. Luckily it did not come with tornadoes. However, warning signs had been posted along the main highway: “Stay at home if possible”. Well, for some of us the opposite applies. A winter storm often brings a good swell to the ocean and that means surf is up. 5 foot swells were predicted and the forecast did not disappoint. Water temperature: 42 F, air temperature: 6 F. Does that mean the photographer was colder than the surfers? Not sure. It seems daring to me to jump into the ocean before sunrise, wait for a good wave to form, ride for 30 seconds or less knowing that you will eat it at the end. Anyways, great fun to watch.