Congratulations, citizens. If you’re a new Alaska resident and you’ve stuck it out this long, hurrah. On Monday you will achieve an important Cheechako status, your first winter solstice. That’s also the day winter officially begins, although in Alaska your mileage may vary. We tend to count the start of winter as the day we change our snow tires.
For the rest of us, Monday also means the day when the daylight hours stop getting shorter. If you go to the U.S. Naval Observatory’s website and look up actual hours of daylight, you’ll see that until Christmas the hours of daylight for Homer hover at 5 hours, 59 minutes, and then on Christmas Day gain a minute. Huh.
Quel coincidence, as they say in Canada. The day celebrated by Christians as the birthday of the savior who brought light to the world also is the day light returns, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s kinda cool how that works out.
If you’ve been through winter solstice before, you know that for a while this whole daylight gaining thingy isn’t all that impressive until about mid-March when you drive to work and realize, Shazam, the sun has risen. Like a freight train building up steam, the gain in hours takes some time, but once it gets going, we’re talking some momentum.
Keep that momentum going, Pilgrims, as we head into the last week before Christmas. Of course you’ve got all your shopping done and just have to mail that last package. If you haven’t, check out last-minute shopping ideas from our fabulous advertisers. When you’re done with all your holiday preparations, relax with these Best Bets:
BEST IT’S A WRAP BET: Those tidy gift-wrap corners can be a challenge, so let the volunteers at the annual American Legion Auxiliary Gift Wrapping Booth help you out. Get gifts wrapped noon-5 p.m. today-Wednesday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Christmas Eve at Ulmer’s. A donation supports veterans programs.
BEST OK NOW BET: Have some ideas on balancing the state budget you want to share with Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, before he heads off to Juneau next month? Stevens holds an open house from 4-6 p.m. today at the Homer Legislative Information Office. It’s also a good opportunity to meet the staff at the LIO and learn how to keep informed during the upcoming Alaska Legislature.
BEST PASS THE BREAD BET: It’s warm, cozy and sunny in Homer United Methodist Church’s big solarium. Enjoy fellowship and food for its monthly free community meal from 5:30-7:30 p.m. today.
BEST BIRD ON BET: Want to learn more about Homer’s birds and meet some cool people in the process? Volunteer for the annual Christmas Bird Count from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. No experience is necessary. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center and then fan out around town to count birds. The count ends at sunset around 4:30 p.m. with a potluck dinner at Islands and Ocean. Dress warmly and bring binoculars, spotting scopes and bird guides.
BEST ONE MORE THING BET: Even if you have done all your shopping, you just know there’s one more stocking stuffer to get. Do some last-minute shopping at the annual Procrastinators Faire from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday at the Homer High School gym.