Author: Kenske PM
About Occupy Fairbanks in Alaska, where temperatures got to -50F this winter. A small account of one morning I spent there in February at -40F. It was really weird times, and writing about them is a good way for me to comprehend what we did all winter!Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 639 - Published: 05-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3025606
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It was a bitterly cold winter day in February 2012. -40 degrees below zero is where Frehenheit and Celsius meet, and after -50 F, I would describe that as hellishly cold, and -40 just bitter.
I arrived at the tent at Veterns Memorial Park in downtown Fairbanks. Four pairs of pants, three pairs of socks, three shirts, a sweater, a winter jacket, and a pair of white bunny boots given to me by a fellow film student when the protest started.
Occupy Fairbanks, which started off in the so called "Turtle Sex Park" on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, had claimed a space next to City Hall, the Public Services Building, and a Wells Fargo bank and office. Originally, the park's gazebo was why we chose to occupy by there, we never even thought of tents. the gazebo was raised and covered, and we stood our ground with a 24 hour vigil until mid-November. A cold snap was approaching, -30 F without an end in sight.
We set up a small wall tent with a even smaller wood stove. Everything was donated, including all the firewood that carried us into April. While I was barely involved with the occupation until January, I stopped by when I could to bring food or water. Attempts at a second warmer, larger tent were mostly unsuccessful.
Since I got back from the unusually beautiful San Fansico Bay that January, Occupy Fairbanks had survived an over four week cold spell. I knew I had to become more involved, even if just to allow more time for those who've already had the cold seep too far into their bones.
This one morning in February I had spent the first half hour of my shift trying to get a fire in the wood stove started. I couldn't find matches or newspaper, and the flashlight was frozen. I ripped apart a National Geographic and some birch bark and tried to start it with a lighter. After just a few minutes, my fingers became numb. I put the lighter in my inside jacket pocket, along with my cell phone and any food I wanted to thaw. While I let my fingers warm in my gloves, I could tel the tent was slightly warmer from my presence.
Then, in the distance, I heard someone walking through the park. Noise travels extremely well in the cold, and the train across the river sounded like it ran right next to the tent. Finally the man called out,
"Hey, anybody in there?" He asked. His voice was clear and understandable, but obviously not close. I waited, not wanting to move.
"Yeah, I'm in here!" I responded. Finally I got up and poked my head out of the tent, the entrance being a crater in the snow around it.
An Alaskan-Native looking man with a moustache and a baseball cap was walking by on a path in the snow. His jacket was thin and not meant for winter.
"Did you hear, you're heroes!" He said. Betweent he cold and barely sleeping the night before, I was immediately confused.
"A guy wrote a letter to the editor, and he's calling you guys heroes!" He told me. I started to get out to talk to him, as the tent wasn't warm anyway.
"No, no, stay in there, I thought you'd just want to know you guys are heroes." He then kept on his way through the park.
I watched him for a moment before going back in and attempting to start another fire. I was unsuccesful until a full hour after I had arrived. There wasn't much to think about when I was letting my fingers warm up. It was "think about the cold," or "think about if I'm actually a hero."