Sailing around icy fjords in the Arctic Circle? In June, when it’s 24-hour daylight, not even a twilight, let alone darkness? Which means you don’t even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. You are, however. guaranteed to freeze your nose and burn your face from the sun and snow unless you bundle into parkas and slather on ridiculous amounts of sunscreen. Who would do such a thing?
Well, it turns out, yours truly. My late, greatly beloved husband died on February 15th, his voice ringing in my head with recollected snippets – one of which was: If you didn’t have me to look after, you could go on this wonderful trip to XxxxXx. Not my favorite snippet, but there it was. So thanks to some bizarre urge that a highly trained grief counselor might be able to analyze, I found myself saying – on about February 25th – why not?
Conveniently there was a Commonwealth Club expedition to the Arctic Circle with a bunch of climate people, even including a casual acquaintance interested in a roommate. It was somewhat of a cruise (read: too much elegant food, drink and royal treatment onboard) but it promised firsthand views of what we humans are doing to this beautiful planet. Plus countless lectures about millennia past and (hopefully) future by impressively credentialed people. So off I went. San Francisco to Paris to Longyearbyen, Norway to the Arctic fjords, the last leg aboard the small but lovely Ponant ship l’Austral. This is the first of what may be several reflections from the northernmost tip of the globe.
It is incredibly beautiful, this planet.
At its northernmost tip there is a breathtaking expanse of blue, gray and white: snow, ice, sea ice (salt water turns to ice at about 28 degrees,) azure blue skies streaked with gossamer-gray clouds melting into the sea – which itself changes from shades of sapphire to emerald-blue in an instant with the shifting skies. The fjords are defined by mountains fronted by stretches of tundra and permafrost – the differences between which (tundra has vegetation, permafrost is permanently frozen) were carefully explained to me.
Accompanying our group, in addition to the impressive lecturers, were about a dozen naturalists who appeared (to this octogenarian) to have a median age of about 15. But they had PhDs and post-doctorates in things like polar ecology, bioscience and glaciology. One of them left me with an unforgettable phrase and indelible image that sums up the Arctic experience for me. I wish I could videoconference the moment with every climate change denier, every fossil fuel enthusiast, every deregulation proponent and every grandparent who believes – as I continue to do – that our grandchildren will save the planet.
We had come to shore to study the wildlife (a clump of resting walruses) and wildflowers (there are over 400 varieties of tiny flora in the tundra) via inflatable rubber boats called zodiacs. Zodiacs could navigate the distance – in this case it was about a quarter of a mile – from ship to shore.
“You see where our ship is?” said my naturalist friend, pointing toward the sea. I nodded. “This time last year, that was ice.”
If You will come to Finland, then fly first to Helsinki and then fly to Rovaniemi. Few miles by taxi to the Arctic Circle. I will answer any questions You. 🙂
There are much to see, was it summer or winter!
I’ve no idea how this comment disappeared forever into the black hole of Pending comments. But thank you! I hope one day to return to your lovely part of the planet.
Arctic Circle. in Finland seems different Did You know that first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited there and her log cabin is interesting to visit? Here is one of my posts there:
Reindeer rides and Santa
Have a wonderful day!
That is so wonderful! I’ll look forward to reading more of your blogs. I’m especially delighted that you mentioned one of my heroines, Eleanor Roosevelt — whom I actually met in 1953. Here are a few blogs I’ve posted that mentioned (or were all about) her. https://franjohns.net/tag/eleanor-roosevelt/. Thank you so much for dropping by. I wish you peace and every good thing.
You met Elearnor! Wow.
Yes, very lucky me, 20 years old, fresh out of college, 1953. I told that story in long-ago blog, https://franjohns.net/2012/11/14/eleanor-roosevelts-enduring-presence/. Now I’ll need to find a way to visit Finland. Peace & cheer to you!
Thank You. I will check Your post. 🙂
Truly sad what humans have done to the environment in the past century and a half. Thanks for the photos!
Yes! But check out Drawdown and Pathfinders, two great organizations (among others, but I just learned of these) doing remarkable work to change our relentless drive toward extinction.
Can’t wait to get together, Fran, so I can hear all the rest of the details suggested in this tantalizing piece!
On Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 6:27 PM Fran Moreland Johns wrote:
> Fran Johns posted: ” Sailing around icy fjords in the Arctic Circle? In > June, when it’s 24-hour daylight, not even a twilight, let alone darkness? > Which means you don’t even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. You are, > however. guaranteed to freeze your nose and burn your” >