Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fairbanks in January

Fairbanks sunrise at 10:30 am.

After spending the summer of 2015 exploring the interior of Alaska, my husband and I speculated on what it might be like in the winter. And did we want to experience it first hand? In the end, curiosity won out and we flew in to Fairbanks for a short winter visit.

Our arrival coincided with a bit of record cold weather in Fairbanks. When we landed, the pilot announced cheerfully that Fairbanks was MINUS 39 degrees. No wind chill. Just cold.

Minus 39 degrees is the coldest weather I have ever experienced in my lifetime. It was so cold that it hurt to take a breath. So cold that the liquid in my eyes started to freeze, making blinking a chore. So cold that a sniffle became a solid icicle before it could drip off the tip of a nose. 

At these temperatures, if you leave a car in a parking lot for longer than two hours, you had better make sure you have plugged it in or it will not start when you go back out. Parking lots have stands of outlets and every car has a plug sticking out of the front grate.

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks has on its campus the amazing Museum of the North. The museum is a celebration of Alaska history and culture plus an art museum. 

The Museum of the North (MON) has a large collection of Native Alaskan art (contemporary and old) plus many other pieces of note. Here are a few of my favorites from this visit.

Sara Tabbert, wood carving

This wood carving is by Fairbanks artist, Sara Tabbert. Her work is vibrant and hopeful and some day I hope to own one. You can read and see more about her here. This video plays in the museum and gives a good sense of the artist and her work.

Claire Feyes, oil painting

Claire Feyes is another Alaska artist whose work is captivating. While not a Native Alaskan herself, she fell in love with the land and the people in the land. Here is a documentary about her life and work. I enjoy the simple shapes and sense of community she depicts.

John Hoover, wood carving and sculpture

John Hoover's work stands out as Native Alaskan (his mother was Aleut, his father Dutch) and yet completely contemporary. I remember seeing some of his work in Seattle, as well as in Anchorage.

It is refreshing to take time to step away from the normal routines of daily life and explore something different. For me, this trip to Fairbanks allows me to change the channel of negative and anxious thinking to things that are hopeful and beautiful and lovely.

Fairbanks in the winter is beautiful, but I admit that I am happy to be home to PLUS 39 degrees!

"Homeward Bound" Paul Simon and George Harrison.

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