Tomorrow, December 4th, marks my one-year mark of ever having set foot in Fairbanks, Alaska. In honor of this day, I give you five things to love about Fairbanks.
Note, these are not “THE TOP FIVE” – as I don’t claim to know what those are… these are just five things that I love, and I reserve the right to post five more someday. Although, looking at the date of my last post of substance, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Apparently ravens are found all throughout Washington, my former home state, but I only ever remember seeing crows. You might be tempted to describe ravens as a bit of a larger crow, and I suppose perhaps they are, but ravens make the most amazing noises. Not only does their “caw” sound more musical, but they range from clicks and whirrs to almost a musical scoop upward, like there’s a question being asked.
And, speaking of music…
Fairbanks is full of artistic and musical opportunities and, in fact, churns out a great number of talented folks. Witness the Fairbanks Symphony, pictured above (photo swiped from KUAC). I play on that very stage once a week – no, not with that group, but thanks – with Lady Barbara, the cello.
3. The Aurora
Yes, it’s every bit as beautiful as you think it is going to be, except when you imagined witnessing it, you didn’t picture yourself so very, very cold. I’ve seen greens, they run like a river over the top of our house and they’re subtle at first, like you don’t know what you’re really seeing. They’re lovely through the birch trees up here on the ridge. The hubs and daughter saw reddish pink ones last February.
4. Morris Thompson Cultural Center
This place is amazing. There is a walk through exhibit which highlights living through the four seasons in Fairbanks, several films and lectures as well as musical demonstrations by Athabascan fiddlers and dancers. I take every visitor I host here, and I love watching the short film where the birds come back to Creamer’s Field and the snow melts and the birches green up again.
And you guys… it’s FREE. Yes, free to park, free to visit. In a place like Fairbanks, where things are automagically more expensive than most other places, that is no small feat.
5. The Extremes
Sunshine all night in the summer; darkness most of the day in the deep winter. We can get into the 90s in the summer, and I’ve seen one weekend that got to 50 below. Living through this year after year does something to people; there is a lot of turnover. Some folks I’ve met rave about Fairbanks, how it’s a great place to live and they love raising kids here. I ask them what they plan to do when they retire and they say, “Oh, man, we’ve had it with the winter. We’re moving down to Arizona.” A study in contrast.
It’s the extremes that also make for a somewhat rougher transition; at least if I had moved somewhere in Washington, I wouldn’t have to pay a guy to haul my water once a week, listen to a pump kick on every time I flush the toilet, or worry about a moose stomping me to death in my yard.
To be fair, though, I don’t really worry about a moose stomping me.
However, after a year, the homesickness is manageable. Sometimes I still wonder what I did to my somewhat dull but otherwise happy life… but then I remember that the year of crippling depression Helen told me to prepare for is almost over. I have built a fledgling support group. There were nine (9) people that came to see me and Lady Barbara play last week – and I was only related to three of them.
It might just have all been worth it.