Ya know, it just doesn’t seem right that while we’re enjoying balmy weather here in Alaska, subzero cold has descended upon our southern neighbors. Holy Polar Vortex! On Tuesday, it was colder (19 degrees) in Pensacola, Fla., than Homer (34 degrees). The temperatures plunged 50 degrees, from 55 to 5, inside of a day in New York City. If you looked at a weather map of the Lower 48 states earlier this week, it had a big purple-blue blob showing cold temperatures extending over all but the most southern regions of the country.
Here in Alaska, we’re screaming, “Hey — who took our winter?” Down south, they’re screaming, “Hey — you can have it back.” In a way, we’re responsible. Well, not we Alaskans specifically, because we all know there’s nothing we puny humans can do about the weather. There’s a connection between our warm weather and the Lower 48’s cold weather in that a warm front over Alaska has pushed colder polar air south. Now and then we Alaskans thinks it’s important that our neighbors understand what we go through.
As a New Yorker friend of the Betster said, “Look, you chose to move there. Extreme weather is not in our terms of service.” Enduring deep cold and heavy snow is part of our character. We expect it. We build for it, plow for it, bundle up for it and roll with it. We won’t complain if in mid-February it gets warm and sunny, just enough to brighten up the day but not enough to melt snow, but if it’s too warm for too long, well, what’s the point of being in Alaska? If we wanted cloudy days with constant rain we’d move to Seattle. Or Ketchikan. Wait — Ketchikan is in Alaska.
See, that’s the thing about our state. It can be balmy at one end and not quite freezing, and in the deep dark interior creeping down into the dead zone of minus 45. University of Alaska Fairbanks students don’t put on their swimsuits until it gets minus 45, and only to pose in front of the thermometer sign. You will notice those kids always wear boots. They’re not totally stupid.
It looks like life will be getting warmer for our Lower 48 friends. Whew. We were getting a little worried about some of them. Floridians aren’t really geared up for temps in the teens. Do you think we could stand 85 degree days? Exactly. Hopefully, it will get cooler and we’ll get more snow, because, well, gosh darn it, winter carnival is only a few weeks away.
Meanwhile, enjoy the warmth while you can, perhaps with some of these Best Bets:
BEST ART AGAIN BET: The art scene in Homer is so awesome sometimes we need two whole weeks to showcase Friday openings. No, you didn’t miss Bunnell Street Art Center’s opening last week — it’s 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, with “ReCollections” by Kayla Spaan and Laura Bliss, a quirky mixed-media show with all sorts of fun stuff. The artists speak at 6 p.m.
BEST CLASSIC BAR BAND BET: That’s what’s great about Alaska’s music scene. As tough as it can be to make a living, a lot of musicians hang in there and keep on making music that rocks. You can’t get any harder working than Lulu Small, Trish Ham and Dave Tremper, playing at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Down East Saloon.
BEST PASS THE HAT BET: A little warm weather would be OK for a visit this Saturday by the Hungry Hat Gypsy Family Circus, an Anchorage group doing workshops and a performance at Bishop’s Beach. Here’s the workshop schedule: noon-1 p.m., hoola hoopla; 1-2 p.m., juggling jam; and 2-3 p.m., poi (fire spinning) and mini hoops. At 6 p.m. it’s the big “pass the hat” performance with fire dancing, stilt walkers, music and shadow play, followed by an open fire jam from 8-9:30 p.m. At 11 p.m. it’s BYOT — bring your own tree — for a beach bonfire and Christmas tree burn.
BEST HOMEGROWN AWESOME BET: Homer-raised musician Andrew Vait is in town visiting the ’rents, which is our treat, because the guy has been doing all right in the big Seattle music scene. He does a gallery concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Council on the Arts and is just damn good. Tickets are $5 youth, $10 HCOA members and $15 general admission.
BEST GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY BET: No matter the weather, the Carl Wynn Nature Center always has something going on for its weekly Sunday afternoon Community Bonfire & Outdoor P.L.A.Y. That’s “Play and Learning Activities for You,” and can include snowshoeing, sledding, finding animal tracks or making s’mores. Yum. The free event runs 1-4 p.m. at the nature center, Mile 1.5 East Skyline Drive.