Palmer Buzz

It’s the great freeze. This is real winter—Alaska and Palmer is wearing the frozen mantle for at least two weeks. There are the clearest of skies and the coldest of temperatures. How does Palmer survive this cold snap? Social media gives us a clue, plus some very chilly interviews on the street. Here are the answers to the question: How do you Deal with this extreme cold?

Noontime Sun and Winter sports—Ice fishing seems to be a great frozen season hobby. Along the same lines are the winter sporting opportunities, including snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding, snow-machining, and fat biking. Winter walks are extremely brisk and running with cleats is a robust activity. Dog skijoring and dog sledding are also popular in the outer areas. Ice Caves are fun to build and enjoy with a small candle.

Freezing Games Palmer Plays—In recognition of the deep cold, here are some fine and crazy entertainments that Palmer indulges in: Blowing bubbles in sub zero temperature allows for glassine bubbles which pop and crack on your deck or back yard. Creating ice luminaries is easy now, simply by filling buckets or containers with water and letting Mother Nature do her freezing work. Another game we do is called, “expando ice.” Basically this is putting water in odd shaped jars and containers and allowing the expansion to create fragmented and fusioned odd pieces of outside art. If you want to take this to another level, just add a bit of food coloring. Frozen water balloons are equally refreshing. You can pull off the balloon skin and have glittery icy balls all lined up. Silly string reacts in a bizarre manner, when it is this cold. Best of all is the ice sculpture creations: one creates a sculpture with different sizes and shapes of balloons, adds a bit of sand to each and food coloring. Your end result is a stunning subzero work of outside art.

Palmer Deep Ice Photography—This is the time to take amazing pictures but remember to keep your camera battery warm. There are sun dogs and light pillars. There are brilliant blue skies and white mountain profiles. There is hoar frost and ice crystals and snow and ice photography. We have a full moon this week so even nighttime photography is pretty easy.

Bird feeders and Bonfires—Palmer has a remarkable number of winter birds and those birds love to be fed. Nuthatches, Red polls, Black Capped Chickadees along with an occasional Boreal chickadee are in our populations. Magpies, ravens and Bohemian Waxwings are visitors as well.

Bonfires are our traditional outside gathering in the Palmer area. Everyone owns “that one boot,” which probably came too-close to the firepit. The ancient art of campfire conversation takes on a superlative function when it is this cold. People tend to turn round and round, rotating to keep all their sides warm, at a bonfire. It is not unusual to be talking to someone’s backside and this survival technique of roasting is not considered impolite.

Palmer Personal Potluck Parties—This is by far the favorite winter activity. People fill their kitchen tables with high-calorie comfort foods. And they fill their homes with friends and family. The extra refrigerator is right outside the door. There really is nothing better than a house full of music, activity, good aromas and fun people. It doesn’t matter if it is cramped or tight. Everyone is jammed in, along with the huge pile of coats and boots. There is the jigsaw puzzle and the deck of cards; there’s the movie on in the downstairs, football or hockey game on the tv and the music playing upstairs. The furnace or woodstove is working overtime because of the outside door being repeatedly opened and closed. Someone is playing a guitar and someone else is knitting a sweater. The Ping pong or pool table is full of players. There might be a board game in play. Or someone is showing You-tube videos to another. It is a great collection of convivial, warm community which keeps Palmer winter freezes from getting under our skin.

This week is a fun one starting with the big Friday Full Moon. Saturday starts off with the Palmer Food Swap at 10 am, at the Level Seven Center. “Show of Hands”is from 1-8pm at the Glenn Massay Theater; it is free and involves Live Music, interaction, community and food trucks! Saturday night is an Indian Cooking Class with Nourished Health Coaching. And there is also the Palmer Arts Council annual meeting and dinner at Turkey Red. Sunday is a great

Japanese New Year’s Celebration at the United Protestant Presbyterian Church.

Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff in the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz Column in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group. Her “Palmer Buzz Community Calendar” is available at Palmer shops and the Palmer museum. Contact at or text 907.315.3222

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