December 8, 2014

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.

Filed under: Aurora, Events, Everyday Life, Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 3:16 pm

(The title of this blog is a quotation by Hamilton Wright Mabie)

I love the month of December. Not only because Christmas comes in December, but because Steve and I both celebrate our birthdays in December. Steve’s birthday is actually today (12/8), and mine is on Sunday (12/14). Because we both have birthdays in December, we often celebrate both on the weekend in between. Because I won’t be here for my birthday, we celebrated early with a delicious dinner at Lavelle’s Bistro here in Fairbanks. Lavelle’s is our ’special occasion’ restaurant as it’s quite pricey, but the food has always been good and the ambiance is quite romantic too.  We both enjoyed dinner immensely, and afterward we took a drive around the downtown area to look at the Christmas lights on display in Golden Heart Plaza and on some of the stores and businesses.

I took this photo of the two of us before we went out to dinner:

Here is a pano photo of downtown Fairbanks, that I took after dinner:

Downtown Fairbanks pano

Because Steve turned 60 this year, I also organized an impromptu gathering at Badger Den Bar & Grill here in North Pole. Several friends came out to celebrate, and to share in a meal and delicious cheese cake (Steve’s request, rather than birthday cake). It was very last minute, and also snowing, so we are both quite happy that they came out. We sang to him and I put one big candle in one of the cheesecakes so he could make a wish. It was an enjoyable night, and I know Steve was happy to have others celebrate with him.

Steve had 3 Cheesecakes. This is just one of them Steve's Birthday Gathering Steve's Birthday Gathering


At the beginning of the month, Fairbanks finally had a sizable accumulation of snow. At our house in North Pole, we measured about 7″ of new snow. Most everyone is happy about this, as we didn’t have much before then, and once our temperature plummets into the negatives, there’s the risk of frozen septic systems without the added insulation.


November 26, 2014

“Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dark trees…

Filed under: Aurora, Everyday Life, Roadtrips — Susan Stevenson @ 11:39 am

… that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness.” ~ Mary Oliver

Finally - after waiting forever it seems - we had our first significant snowfall yesterday. Here at our house, there is an additional 5-6″ of accumulation. So many of us have been wanting and wishing for fresh snow, as the first snow had compacted into less than an inch of dirty, footprint-marked, grayness. Now, the world looks bright and white and clean again. And the trees look beautiful, wearing their white cloaks - especially the many birch trees surrounding our home.

fresh snow on the driveway

I took this photo of one of our birch trees and converted it to B&W:

birch tree and snow

I had a few errands to run yesterday, and although the roads were slippery in several places, I made a few stops along the way to grab a few photos:

Snow Scene - Fort Wainwright Golf Course Spruce Tree - Fort Wainwright Golf Course Snow and the Red Storage Shed

Only a few days earlier, we had one of those blue-sky winter days. Despite the sun’s brief appearance as we near Winter Solstice, and its low position in the sky, the light it emits is quite bright. As the sunshine finds its way between the trees, and spills across the snow-covered ground, ice crystals sparkle like fairy dust. The light is a beautiful orange-yellow and warms the tips of the trees, highlighting the frost and snow clinging to each branch. Against the blue sky, the orange-painted branches look almost fall-like. It is quite stunning!

Sun through the birch trees in my front yard Orange Frost Orange branches against a deep blue winter sky


November 8, 2014

One kind word can warm three winter months

Filed under: Aurora, Calendar, Everyday Life — Susan Stevenson @ 4:04 pm

The title I chose for this blog entry is a Japanese Proverb. I feel it is quite fitting, as I have been spending time over the last week making local calendar deliveries. I have heard many kind words. The joy in my heart is overflowing! The best part of making local deliveries is catching up with friends who I mostly see online, but don’t often get to spend time with in person. It has been absolutely wonderful!

Renata and HubbyOne buyer of my calendar is a couple from the Chicago area, who happened to be in Fairbanks on holiday. I met Renata and her husband for lunch one day, and then we took a short drive to Pioneer Park so I could show them around. Later that day, they drove out to Chena Hot Springs with the hope of catching the aurora as well as taking a nice long soak. I don’t know if the lights came out that night, but I do hope they had a good visit to the springs anyway.

I took this photo of them in front of one of the cabins in Gold Rush Town. Renata keeps a blog, but it’s written in Polish (their native language), and even though I have tried to follow their travels, Google Translator comes up with some interesting interpretations - making it a little bit of a challenge. At least I can enjoy their photos.


The weekend before Halloween, Pioneer Park hosted a wonderful event that included trick or treating, games, decorated cabins, entertainment, face painting, and more. My friend Amanda invited me to go along with her and her son, Marc - who was a Transformer.

The decorations were wonderful, and there was a great turnout. I loved seeing the kids in their costumes, and the volunteers who were also dressed up and passing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. The cabins in Gold Rush Town were decked out with lights and spider webs, and friendly ghouls and other creatures welcomed little trick-or-treaters.

After making the rounds outdoors, we went into the Civic Center arena to warm up and to watch the entertainment. A few Storm Troopers were on hand, with a neat backdrop, so people could take their photos with them. Also Elsa and Anna from Frozen made an appearance. Dance Theatre Fairbanks entertained with some lively dance to songs like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and other holiday appropriate tunes. There was also a costume contest, which was cute. We stayed until the sun went down, lighting up the sky with brilliant orange and yellow.

Transformer Marc Halloween at Trick or Treat Town Wizard of Oz Ghouls in Trick or Treat Town
Amanda and Marc Clowns - SCARY! Trick or Treat Raven Sculpture
Amanda and the Headless Horseman These fence-sitting witches were cute I loved the skeleton families at the picnic tables
Ghosts in the trees These two were so cute. I think it might be mother and daughter, or maybe sisters The Storm Troopers were a big hit
Dance Theatre Fairbanks The SS Nenana in the orange light of the setting sun


With darkness, comes light. The northern lights, that is. I haven’t been out all night chasing lately, as I’ve been quite busy with calendar shipping, and other photo work. And honestly… I’ve been so tired! I’m having a hard time adjusting to the cold. The beginning of the winter season is always a little difficult for me. I just don’t want to go out in it - or venture too far from home. Fortunately, I can get a good view of the aurora without leaving home, and that’s satisfied me thus far. I do hope to do some bona fide chasing before I leave for WI in December, especially now that my calendars are mostly in their new homes.

At the end of October, I was already in my pjs and preparing to head up to bed, when I took the usual last look out the back door. A bright band of light stretched across the sky over my house. The temperature was below zero, and I was not in any mood to go outside in my thin pajamas, so I set my camera on the tripod, turned off the lights, and took a few photos through the glass doors. You just can’t beat having a view like this from inside a warm house!

Aurora through the back door