Our last full day...I can't quite believe we are leaving tomorrow, it feels like far too short of a trip. We got up this morning after a windy and snowy night, and after breakfast headed in for another landing in the Bellsund fjord at a site they have not visited before. It was far more open and panoramic than other landing sites, and we ended up spending quite a lot of time there. I hiked around in CT's group, and although my camera battery died about 10 minutes into the landing, I was able to simply be in the place and enjoy the views, the reindeer (including a new calf), and the crazy wind .
The reindeer were fearless! Driven by the wind or by curiosity, they were interested in all of us, and were incredibly close, especially while we walked on the shingle beach.
When I reflect on my time here, I realize how the landscape gnaws at you. Sometimes, looking at the sheer frigid face of a glacier, or gazing across sea ice that seems to go on and on into the horizon, the beauty here is almost terrifying. And yet, on another day I see purple saxifrage tenaciously pushing its way through stones and ice, or a mother reindeer watching an excitable new calf scamper across the tundra, and the sheer loveliness of both instances draw you into a beauty that is so alive and inviting. Maybe that is the paradox and wonder of the Arctic.
I want to remember the beauty of vast wilderness spaces and that getting out into them is so important both for learning about them, but also for restoring your soul. Yet, I rarely make time for that in my own life, or in my classroom. How do I get better at that?
I want to remember the wonder...of the place, of the people I have had the privilege to spend this time with and learn from.
I want to remember that Svalbard is a place that is changing because of human action and inaction. I am excited and overwhelmed by the obligation I now have to communicate that to my students.
This expedition made made my world bigger and smaller. Bigger in that I am reminded again of how little I know, and how much sheer awesomeness there is on this planet we call home...I know so little about so much of the place I inhabit and I want to learn more. It also made my world smaller in that I connected to a place and learned about something that rarely crossed my mind before being selected for this fellowship. This trip was a gift in so many ways. I am grateful.