Apricity: The feeling of the warmth of the sun in winter

Horses soaking in the late fall sun.

It was April. Break-up season. The snow so rotten you couldn’t take a step without falling in up to your waist. We were home-bound, travel too difficult to make any progress on our projects. The lumber was milled and ready for construction and the homesite selected. The gear was moved off the lake and summer loomed brightly around the corner. Now, after months of go-go-go, we gratefully accepted a time of rest. Now, we waited for the flip of the seasonal switch.

Sun gained over darkness. Days boasted 15 hours of light and gained 5 minutes more with each daily revolution. We let the tipi wood stove burn out, reveling in the shift happening right outside canvas walls.

One day, noses buried in books, Morgan turned and asked, “What about ‘Apricity?'”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“For a business name.”
I responded, “It’s a lovely word… but I don’t even know what it means. We need something with a bit of Alaskana flair.” He told me the meaning, and then we went back  to our books, trying to solidify our arguments for and against for a more fruitful discussion.

Days later, we were sitting on the deck of milled lumber, soaking in the intense northern sun on our small, raised island. Apricating, if you will.

“I still think its a good name.” Morgan said, sunglasses shading his eyes and cheeks ruddy from the bright reflections of sun off of the snow.

“What. Apricity?!” I was slow to voice my opinion, sluggish from the heat of the bright spring sun. In that moment, drugged by sunshine, I realized he really had hit on the perfect word.

Apricity: “The feeling of the warmth of the sun in winter.” It’s root in the Latin word meaning “to bask in the sun.” Here in Alaska, days are ruled by the wax and wan of sunlight.

The warmth of the sun dictates everyday life. From 60 below to 90 above, the days tasks and chores at hand are all affected. What could be more pleasurable than standing in a sun beam, bouncing brightly off the snow in the brief daylight of winter. The bliss accompanying lengthening days as it warms garden soil, melts the snow,  greens the landscape, and slowly brings us out of hibernation.

Apricity: It speaks to the subtle pleasures of time spent in the wilderness. Of savoring moments and of the radiance found in the everyday. In some ways, this “Apricity” is a reminder for our reasons for bush life and what we hope to share with visitors.

Feeling the warmth of the sun.

PS– Morgan wanted me to pass along the book where he first encountered this beautiful word.

What if?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe.


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2 replies
  1. Michelle Membrez
    Michelle Membrez says:

    After reading this it got me thinking of winter words. I found a site that has lost winter words in it. Apricity is one of the lost words. They say it first entered our language in 1623. I sent you a link to your emailthat was attached when I signed up for the blog via email. Do they still get emailed? Sincerely, Michelle Membrez.

  2. Margaret Stern
    Margaret Stern says:

    Yes! We are just very behind. It’s been a busy couple of months. Will get the next one out here soon. Love the Winter Words e-mail. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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