Zero and Starting to Snow


Yes, it’s cold.

Temperatures in Whitehorse hover around 0F. (You read that right, zero Fahrenheit. A reminder: 32F is freezing.) Temps are predicted to drop in the next few days. And yes, it’s a dry cold, it’s arid, my eyes itch and my nose aches and my lips are like sandpaper. To go outside, I wear long underwear under snow pants. A wool sweater. A hat. A parka that is large enough to lose things in. I flip up my fur lined hood. Wool socks. My boots are rated to -40F. I wear lightweight glove liners underneath fleece lined mittens. A scarf. It is a lot of clothing and takes some thinking. When I put down my glove liners in the café, I don’t remember where I’ve put them (inside my mittens, of course) and can’t find my phone because the parka has so many pockets. Nearly everyone on the street emits that swish swish swish of nylon on nylon and the squeak of boots in snow as they walk by. I have decided that you must recognize your friends and neighbors by their coats and hats, not by their features, as everyone is a bulky silhouette of layer upon layer of performance insulation.


And yes, it’s dark.

Opening the curtains at 7:30, I saw a black sky. Streetlights. Shadows on other shadows. An hour later, the light started to come up, very slowly, and turned the dark gray white of the snow to a dark blue white. At night, the streets reflect the orange glow coming from the lampposts, and during the day, the foggy light of the sky. When my plane banked out over the little city on the banks of the Yukon River, for a moment, the sky was a blaze of sunset color. It was 1:30 in the afternoon. The day remained in a afternoon glow for three or four more hours and then faded to black. And around 9:00 am, the day shifted into a familiar sort of gray daylight.


  • Baked: A café and bakery. A nice fluffy latte, but the cookie was not what I’d imagined.
  • Dirty Northern Bastard: A pub with a super cool interior, very good beer, and excellent mac and cheese on the menu.
  • Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters: “In a Portland moment, our roaster is in a bike shop.” – Yukon resident Eva Holland. I found my Americano a little dark, but I’ll go back and ask for another bean. It’s that kind of place and it smells great.
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