Let me be clear Deb Horner is who I think of whenever someone talks about how they transplanted themselves in the state of Alaska. There are many of us who moved up to Alaska and made our homestead here. It doesn’t define who we are–rather who we evolved into.
I met Deb years ago when I started a new position at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and we immediately got along. This is because we shared the same sense of humor, and the propensity for calling out bullshit.
If I was given a wish to live through someone vicariously, it would be Deb. She’s adventurous, and loves the outdoors. She has no fear about taking on anything that challenges her, and inspires her. Every summer she’ll embark on a new adventure. There was one time where she decided to canoe somewhere over some fucking river that I can’t remember its name–all I recall was that I had tracked her ass through this app to make sure that she didn’t capsize and drown somewhere along the river bend (insert Pocahontas song here). I remember that I’d check the app every morning to make sure that she checked in at the designated spots. And, all I kept thinking: this woman is fucking crazy. But, how amazing–because I could never do it. And, yes I hummed the Pocahontas song as I checked the app. I considered it good juju as Deb continued to check-in indicating that she was paddling on just fine.
I must say that Deb inspired me to focus on my writing. Her travels around the world continually gave me inspiration. She once went to a hiking expedition with a group in England. See, I have this vision in my mind of living in the countryside in England–with beautiful cottages and gardens, and I’d be like Jane Austen observing society. Deb returned telling me stories about how the landscapes of the English country smelled like sheep shit. But, boy, was it gorgeous. She always has a way of realism. She’s the only one who I know that can tell you stories of inspiration, but also bitch slap you with the realities. One of my most treasured things is a postcard from Deb when she visited Wordsworth’s home.
I recently had dinner with Deb because it had been a few years since I last spent time with her, and she informed me of her trip to Antartica. Yes, the woman travelled all the way to Antartica—on a cruise–but not a cruise ship. It was a mothereffin’ research vessel. I had to look at her in awe and also in what in Jesus’ name were you thinking? Seriously, we must admit that’s pretty hard core.
I always think and can almost guarantee that in a past life, Deb and I were probably really good friends. She’s free-spirited, kind, talented, straight to the point, and an explorer of life.
She reminds of what fearless looks like.
Her art captivates, and gives insight to places that only one can think of visiting. Her March Morning reminds me of those days when the snow absolutely refuses to melt, and one goes out for a walk and is gifted with the beauty of the sun reflecting off the trees onto the white powdery snow. It’s as if Monet moved to Alaska and decided to paint birch trees instead of lily ponds.
Most significantly, when you look at Deb’s body of work it isn’t just looking at beauty, but feeling it just as if you were there within that exact moment. And, isn’t that the many purposes of intention behind a work of art?
Her next destination? The arctic of the most arctic that you can think of.
And, yes–it will be on another mothereffin’ research vessel.