top of page

A Midsummer For The Ages

It was 95 degrees today...take me back to the Arctic please.

It was bittersweet to leave the pack ice, but I was anticipating even more wonders. We returned to land in Nordauslandet, Sørvika. This area was strewn with debris. Our artist residency traveled to this beach 10 months prior and cleaned it of plastics only to see it in a similar state when we arrived.

It is disheartening that so much plastic, garbage, and fishing products end up on the beaches in the Arctic. The ship was able to haul a rusty, 55 gallon drum on deck while we were on our way to the pack ice. It was just bobbing in the open ocean. While there was a lot of plastic debris on this beach there were also large amount of drift lumber. These logs are escapees from the Siberian logging industry. Mainly taiga wood, the logs drift at sea for 3 years until they end up on the beaches of Svalbard.

We came back to this same landing in the afternoon and completed an invigorating hike. We hiked up and through a pass in order to view both fjords in the area. It felt great to be moving and expend some energy. The gravel landscape was so unique. It looked so purposeful even though the area was not often visited by people. It is simply the freezing and thawing that breaks apart the rocks, moving them around, creating patterns.

At our furthest out from the ship we took a break in a snow and fog filled valley. In an impromptu performance another resident and incredibly talented musician, Kate Schutt, recited The Cremation of Sam McGee, written by Robert W. Service.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.

Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.

He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;

Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.

Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.

If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;

It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.