Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Slightly more advanced than making ice cubes

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So what do we northern idiots do when the mercury plunges so low that even jaded, long-time Alaskans say,”that can’t be right”?  Why we find something to do outside, of course!  Never mind that hypothermia, frostbite, and windburn are at the back of everyone’s mind.  Out we go! 

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The children resembled sausages in pink, Gore-Tex casings after I was finished bundling them up for our windy, downtown outing a couple of weeks ago.  My look was more “purple marshmallow woman meets Davy Crockett”, but so be it, I was warm.  The husband claimed some mechanical items in the garage needed his urgent attention and so was off the hook (and out of the cold).

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Besides Fur Rendezvous and Running of the Reindeer, there isn’t much going on outdoors in winter that gets me to drive downtown when it’s below zero.  This year was an exception.  Having heard vague whisperings of “ice sculptures” and “Town Square,” I figured we were due for a quick trip to view “The Crystal Gallery of Ice,” sculpted by a handful of gentleman whose names I can’t pronounce (and only assume are from a similarly chilly part of eastern Asia where they groom tots from a young age to whittle on ice cubes, then ice bricks, followed by ice blocks.  Following graduation, an arctic expedition to share their scholarship in that Land of Nearly Perpetual Frozen Water: Alaska.  OK, that’s all nonsense, but I kind of enjoyed my short lived ice carving fantasy). 

Fortunately, no melting had occurred (that was a joke, it was literally, to quote Dr. Evil “frickin’ freezing, Mr. Bigglesworth”) and only a dusting of snow slightly obscured the icy figures.  I’m just sorry you won’t be able to experience the heady mixture of numbness in the extremities, wind-stung face, and dash of chattering teeth as you view this post from your heated room.  Stick your head in the freezer for a few minutes for empathy, if you like.

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I was pleasantly surprised at the skill on display.  I was less pleasantly surprised at how cold it was, plus wind.  I have no number to scare you with, only this: my fingers became so numb after a few photos that I (born here) was literally compelled to exit Town Square post-haste and enter the nearby shopping mall where I became just slightly less distracted than a texting teen driving in traffic and bought things I thought I needed, but on second thought, yes, I still needed.  After which I had a hot pretzel and ersatz melted cheese (to fully thaw the fingers, you understand), and then went back outside for a few more pictures at the behest of my by now overheating children.  (You try trudging around a shopping mall in a snowsuit, grumped a wee one.)

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The picture above is probably about as close as this beast from the Galapagos (no doubt someone will let me know if I’m wrong here) will ever get to the frozen north I call home.  But I suppose this whole ice carving idea is also a lesson in making lemonade from lemons.  If you can’t beat the cold temperatures, make an ice sculpture.  Or move to Arizona and tend cacti.  The smart Alaskans do.

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Three cheers for folks who carve ice!


Making lemonade from lemons?


Laurrie said...

Love the ice sculptures! Love them, especially as I view them on my laptop sitting in a warm house. Very enjoyable from here, and quite creative. The icy peacock is my favorite.

I'm glad you can get melted cheese hand warmers in Anchorage. Useful.

Greenfingers41 said...

Fantastic ice sculptures especially from my nice warm study. Only had a few minutes outside today and thought it was cold and the temperature was 0°C almost summer to you I suppose!

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

The sculptures are great and no doubt lasted a while!

I have watched programmes that talk of ice hotels where even the beds are made of ice - can't imagine though why anyone would stay there.

Christine B. said...

@LaurrieIt's a shame my hand warmers are so fattening. Next time I plan on a pair of low calorie down mittens. Guilt free.


Christine B. said...

@Greenfingers41Well, spring maybe. We've warmed up quite a bit this week, so I'm thinking spring may actually happen this year...say in about three months or so.


Christine B. said...

@Sue@G.L. AllotmentsI have my own informal bed of ice when my flannel sheets (how did I survive winter without them?) are being laundered and I have to depend on cotton sateen. Yikes, that stuff is cold on a winter's eve!

The ice sculptures are still standing as it's been far too cold for them to melt yet. Alas.


Becky said...

I love the ice sculptures. I guess you have to be a little Zen to work with ice that will melt sometimes in a short time. I would love to see pictures of these beautiful things when it does warm up. I imagine they melt away and shrink to nothing but a puddle.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What great sculptures. These might even lure me outside. Nahhh, not when I can see them here. Thanks.

Elephant's Eye said...

Wonder which country the foreign gentlemen come from?

Tara Dillard said...

Wore summer dress today in Atlanta, GA. Crazy.

Cannot imagine ice sculpturing. Do they light them at nite?


Christine B. said...

@BeckyIt rained tonight, so I may have a chance to observe the melting firsthand. And at this point after a long, cold winter, anything melting gives me a thrill!


Christine B. said...

@Lisa at GreenbowI think the hot pretzel was what initially lured me out. That and the thought of actually having a few pictures to post about the winter happenings here in the north.


Christine B. said...

@Elephant's EyeWith names like Qifeng and Ze An, Lingzhi Zhang, Yanlong Feng, and Qunli Ma, I'm going to say Chinese, but what I know of east Asian names would fit on the head of a pin.

We're just glad they took the time to carve out a children's interactive gallery, such fun!


Christine B. said...

@Tara DillardThey were lit during the day, so I'm guessing yes. If it weren't fifteen degrees colder when the sun went down, I'd check it out in the evening.

I don't even think I have a sundress. Maybe I'll invent a snowdress insulated with flannel or shearling and make a fortune. Though I will have to earn my fortune by figuring out just how to make insulation slimming.


Marguerite said...

Fantastic photos, I wondered if you might post on this. I received an email just this week from a distant relative who for an unknown reason was in Alaska and had pictures of this very event. Magnificent sculptures but very glad I got to enjoy these by the warmth of my woodstove!


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