For two months a year, Mary, her husband and two daughters, live in darkness because of a phenomenon called polar night. "We'll get only about 45 minutes of sunlight. The sun will actually rise about 10:45 and then it will set about 11:15," Mary says. "And then it's total [darkness] again."
Surrounded by water, the only way to get to Kotzebue is by boat, plane or snowmobile. Like most families there, Mary lives in a small home to save on energy and fuel, which is brought on a barge in the summer before the Bering Sea freezes in the winter.
Alaska's brutal winters last six months, with wind chills sometimes dropping to 100 degrees below zero. "If you threw out water outside in the sky, it would come down as powder. That's how cold it gets," Mary says.