I was speaking with a friend a month ago and she said something that I began to mull over here and there. She commented on how the past summer she had acted more like a tourist and had enjoyed Alaska so much more for having gone out to see it. I can fully admit, with a mouthful of ice cream on already brushed teeth, that I am more impulsive than deliberate. The problem is that I admire both qualities. So we took to Fairbanks to enjoy the World Ice Art Championships in order to be more deliberate and test out my friend’s idea—act a bit more touristy.

We had been told that the festival boasted a wonderful kid’s park made all of ice. This was the area in which I felt the most disappointment. For sure there were a few marvelous things to sit on at the gates,

two slides (which were really quite fun!),

and a simple maze (we wished it was easier to get lost in),

but I had been anticipating grandeur.

Thankfully, the kids did not share in my disappointment.

Fairbanks is quite a haul for us—six hours, which we prefer to do in daylight due to moose and road conditions. The upside of this is that we counted more than thirty moose on the drive.

We checked into a hotel with a pool and complimentary breakfast, and planned to spend the next day at the festival, visiting in the morning and then again in the evening.

Entrance to the festival is for the whole day and we wanted to see the ice in the sparkling sun and then again lit up, at night.

Honestly, since the kids’ attitudes were so infectious and when they’re happy, I can be too (unless it’s because they’re spreading shaving cream all over the mirror), it was easy to let go of the fun-park letdown and be in complete awe of the competition; i.e. what people with a lot of talent can do with a little bit of frozen water.

What I liked about coming towards the end of the championship was that we were able to see some artists still working

While some pieces had been finished and judged.

We took a short break in the middle for an exploration of the nordic trails at the University. Who couldn’t love this sun!?

And then it was a whole different ballgame at night.

The kids ran through the sculptures pretty fast that night, so they could just go sliding again.

But because there were so few people we were able to wander slowly through without worrying about them.

And appreciate some of the detail that hadn’t shown up in the daylight

And I think it was me, more than anyone else, who enjoyed watching the process, which in itself, is just so deliberate, so methodical, that my brain couldn’t comprehend how they’d get to where they were going.

Plus, ice is plain amazing, right!? I mean even the process of water freezing into ice is molecularily (hey, we’re making up words here) incredible.

And then top that with people being able to imagine this

From this—

Kind of makes me pause. Filled with stupefied wonder describes it pretty well (but the nice kind, not the: why-are-you-pounding-nails-into-the-coffee-table kind).

The imperfections are so noticeable, but beautiful, if you let yourself see them as such.

So when we realized that Fairbanks actually broke the original World Championship into two ice festivals this year (due to some internal, board disagreements), one, a for-profit, family ice park, and this, non-profit, ice art competition (let’s chalk it up to strong personalities enduring long, dark winters), we realized we, like the fallible process of water freezing, had imperfectly performed our attempt at deliberosity.

We had to head back the next day, so couldn’t see the actual kid park we had anticipated we were coming to. I’ll be forthright, there was some gnashing of teeth when we realized we’d missed out.

But as I’m constantly telling my ten year old, “Let’s just focus on what we have, not what we don’t.”

I’ll call that some form of deliberosity—of the mind, I suppose.

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