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

Horses soaking in the winter 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.
“Well, for a business name.”
“Meh,” I responded, “Well, it’s a lovely word… I don’t even know what it means. We need something with a bit of Alaskana flair.”
And then we went back to our books, trying to solidify our arguments for and against to produce 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. And what could be more pleasurable than standing in a sun beam, bright off the snow in the brief daylight of winter. Or the sheer joy that the lengthening of days brings to our lives, warming the soil for our gardens, greening the landscape, and bringing us out of hibernation.

Apricity: It speaks to the subtle pleasures of a life spent in the wilderness. Of savoring moments and of the joys offered in the everyday. These moments are the things we hope to share with volunteers, guests, and hope to remember ourselves. In some ways, this “Apricity” is a reminder for our reasons for bush life and why we love to share it with others.

Feeling the warmth of the sun.

PS– Morgan wanted me to pass along the book that he learned the word from.
What if?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe.


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Seasons at the homestead contrast sharply from one another. This is not due solely to the weather swings of -55 to 90 degrees from winter to summer, but because of the nature of work and activity that each season brings. Most different are the times spent alone in the winter contrasted with the flurry of guests, volunteers, and friends that summer brings. In the summer, it is not unusual to have up to 5 people at a time visiting the homestead. Winter, it is common to spend a few weeks apart running errands, visiting family, and visiting friends in town.

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