Expedition on Top of the World – Update #1

Oh the stories I could tell! Well not for a while, that’s for sure. Sailing at the top of our globe in the Svalbard Archipelago is a humbling experience on many levels. Especially the consciousness of how we are smaller than a spec in any Arctic Circle landscape, a reality check for an urbanite from southern Canada. This glacier front is calving, breaking off in monumental chunks. The foreground island is quite a distance from the glacier behind it, and very far from where I am taking this photograph. Its very hard to communicate scale in this Arctic landscape.

My gruelling air travel schedule went as planned until my June 26, Newark-Ottawa flight was cancelled, forcing detour to Detroit, change of air lines and terminals, finally arriving home in Ottawa by midnight, baggage catching-up two days later. My waiting daughter said she had never seen anyone look so tired.

The actual Expedition residency was rich with daily excursion landings, hiking and wildlife sightings, participant presentations and discussions, actual sailing of the tall ship, and for me, collaborations on learning how to make cyanotype prints in the solstice’s 24 hours of daylight. Of course it wouldn’t have been a real arctic expedition if we hadn’t had unexpected challenges such as getting stuck in the ice pack (little less than 24 hours), and the shortage of water requiring innovative methods for cleanliness. This was a trip for the very fit, and can-do spirited artists, writers and educator participants. We represented 3 generations of committed environmentalists combining the arts and sciences in our respective creative practices. In the photo below, we have all just boarded with our luggage in the Longyearbyen harbour. We have no idea what awaits us, or even our cabins.

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