It was a beautiful Christmas but soon the reality that is Alaska set in with ferocious clarity. Two days after Christmas the temperature dropped to 38 below zero. We were freezing. Small cracks in the window felt like huge holes in the wall. The wind was blowing in and it was hard to even sit by a window. The window sill by the kitchen was covered with a 1/4 inch of ice, and that was on the inside. You felt the draft blowing down your neck if you sat by a window. We tended to gather by the fire at all times. We kept a fire going so as to ward off the cold that was penetrating into our small apartment. Our cars were obviously struggling to start in the mornings. I went out about every 4 hours to start the cars and brush the snow off. If I didn’t keep the cars warm, we would be in danger of losing them. We didn’t know how long this ultra cold weather would last but it was getting difficult to bear.
Even the dogs were suffering. Taking them out became painful for them. We no more got outside than Bijoux, our Jack Russell, started to dance on the ice and snow. Her paws were freezing. Duke, our Beagle was doing a little bit better. Both came inside after just a few minutes outside and started to continually lick their paws.
The heater and fireplace were drawing all moisture out of the air. We ran a humidifier at all times. Our cuticles were splitting, our eyes were watering constantly, and itchy dry skin was our daily portion.
I remembered researching Alaska prior to moving here. The general consensus was that the Anchorage area was fairly temperate. Winter temperatures got no colder than 5 below zero. Even long timers were not able to shed light on our current situation. This was the coldest winter since 1942. Everyone seemed perplexed. No point in mulling the weather over anymore. It was what it was. We just had to buckle down and do what we had to do to get through it.
It did not help that my husband got the word that a lay off was imminent. We had gone to minimum payment on all of our bills. We needed to put as much money in savings as we possibly could. He was already actively looking for another job but the possibilities in Alaska were slim. And in Anchorage opportunities were getting more scarce by the day. It was hard not to panic. Survival here took more than just a job. Having a job certainly helped, but, our current weather situation pointedly imputed the urgency of it all.
New Year Eve Day left us little to celebrate. The unrelenting cold was still with us. Our cars were struggling. Our dogs were suffering and we were financially strapped. How can you find anything to celebrate when everything seems to be caving in on you?? Still we knew that we had to press on. The night of New Years Eve came and we all went to bed. I had a very disturbing dream. I dreamed that someone had taken a hire powered rifle and shot my car. My car was dead and couldn’t be resurrected. It was as if I was mourning a death in my dream. Upon waking the next morning I was shocked. My car was dead. Frozen to death. Phil’s car was dead too. I had forgotten to turn the alarm on to wake up so I could go out and warm the cars. It was a devastating blow. Right when we needed all our resources the most we were going to have to shell out some money for this one.