I feel blessed. I have just returned from a short cruise in The Artic along the North coast of Norway. The weather was perfect, not a wisp of wind and clear skies. The Aurora was spectacular, dancing like a fiery angel on night three, and visible every night. During the day, the sky was equally beautiful with various gradations of blue blanketing a snow covered rocky mountainous terrain. At the North Cape, the temperature dipped as low as -17. It is an amazing part of the world made habitable by the Gulf Stream that prevents the sea from freezing.
I am now a proud member of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. The annual general meeting is the third Saturday in January and takes place in Hammerfest, the world’s most Northern town. I’m looking forward to it.
On the final morning I was stood on a mountain overlooking Tromso. It was silent. There wasn’t even a whisper of a breeze and the birds had all emigrated. The snow was dry, powdery, compact, perfect for skiing. Norwegians are born with skis but it’s never appealed to me. My ankle no longer has the flexibility it should since I broke it some years ago, so skiing is too late for me, and, for that, I’m grateful. The trip was populated largely by people older than me on a bucket list quest. I don’t have a bucket list but I’m glad I can cross skiing off my something-I-should-do list.
Here on The Afterword, many of us are getting grizzly, our joints are stiffening up, our minds are less nimble and we are getting beyond certain activities. What, dear Afterworders, are you happy about never having to do in the future?
In the meantime, here’s a wonderful track by Colin Harper. I quote, “The Svalbard archipelago, discovered in 1596, lies halfway between Norway’s North Cape and the North Pole. In an iron vault deep underground the world stores the seeds of 1,400 varieties of things that grow, as insurance against global calamity. Both geographically, and in terms of the survival of humanity, it is the last place on Earth.”