Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Fairbanks once again dipped into the low -40s and even down to -50 in areas over the weekend. I'm sorry, I can't really begin to give you an idea of what it's like when it's this cold. It's just such unimaginable cold, even for me. You forget from year to year just what happens, and how cold it is. On Sunday I got all dressed up to take the dog (wearing her coat and booties, of course) for a ten minute walk. It was like getting ready for a deep sea dive, or walking on the moon. As I was putting all of the layers on I thought to myself, am I crazy? Am I overdoing it? Surely I don't need all of this.
But I did. Pepper ran to the door as soon as she could, anxious to go back inside. Through my layers of long underwear, socks up to my knees, and flannel-lined Carhartts, my legs were cold. So cold that when I took a shower to warm up, the hot water would be cold by the time it ran down my legs.
In the ten minutes we were outside, not only did my eyelashes frost over but so did my hat, scarf, and the outside of my hood. In fact, my scarf froze to my eyelashes several times and I had to thaw them with my fingers briefly.
Shane and I have noticed independently that the dog's hair (definition: hair grows indefinitely, fur has a pre-set stopping point) has seemed dramatically blacker over the past couple of weeks. In the summer sun her back will look brownish in some lights. Now it's a pure, dark shade of black, almost as if she had the gene mutation which allows Siamese cats and a few other animals to darken in cold temperatures. She's also incredibly fluffy and I'm starting to wonder when I should give her a haircut. (Not until at least the middle of February.)
-40 is the temperature at which rubber freezes. The seat in the truck was frozen solid, like sitting on a metal park bench. The shocks were also frozen, so it was a bumpier than usual ride. The windshield wipers were frozen and didn't work, so we had to be sure to wipe snow off before jumping in the truck. And of course, the heater doesn't really work. Nor does the truck idle well. If you're not sitting in it to punch the gas once in a while, it'll shut off.
It doesn't take long for rubber to freeze, either. We went to a friend's apartment for a potluck dinner on Sunday and my shoes froze in the ride over there. It's maybe a five minute drive? When I kicked them off I half expected the soles to shatter on the tiles.
And if you're going to be outside for more than about 30 seconds you'd better have something to put over your nose or it's in danger of being frostbitten. You can feel every breath, every intake of air like little needles. The air shouldn't hurt to breath.
It's cold enough that if you throw a pot of boiling water outside, it will never touch the ground. It will simply evaporate.
It's cold enough that my lunch froze on my walk to work today. This isn't quite as dramatic as it sounds, since it was half-frozen anyway, but still. I'm starting the process of thawing it out all over again.
I got a text from my younger brother on Sunday reading, "Great. It snows here the day before I fly back." I answered, "Enjoy the warmth. It's -45 here." We were unsure if Seattle (notoriously bad in the snow for a variety of reasons) would shut down the airport, but they didn't. The Boy flew in yesterday and I picked him up. He stayed with us for the night since the dorms weren't open. It's nice to have him home.

(A picture of downtown Seattle in the snow from a friend.)

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