Every Night the River Sings a New Song
“Wonder is one of the most powerful forces with which we are born.” (Kagge)
I have been finding myself fantasizing about every little thing around me recently. The days shortening and growing colder, the leaves changing, the sounds that are just waking with the turn of the seasons. Perhaps this has also been glazing my mind as I read Silence in the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge. His book feels like a stream of my own consciousness, a yearning to remove myself from the fray. Preventing myself from careening into the crevasse of work and obligation. He speaks of his own life, his own expeditions, but is in sync with all that I have been feeling and have experienced in the cold.
There is a tether that pulls me towards the unknown, the urgent, and the unseen. Whether obvious or more subdued I will find a landscape and let it envelope me. I have had multiple experiences flushed with wonder:
-The silence so deafening in Ferskvassbukta that I could hear the blood pumping through my veins. Creating such an un-nerving sensation - my body being compressed and put in its place. A crushing nothingness around me that makes sitting there almost painful, unbearable, but so comfortable that I still long for a stay on this beach.
-The gentle sway of the ship in the swell of the Arctic Ocean, collected and held within the pack ice. The fog that rolled in, evaporating all horizon from my sight. I stood as a dusting of snow collected on my eyelashes. Overcome by the purity of this view, tears streamed down my face.
-The explosion of ice calving off of the glaciers in Greenland. Rattling me awake with a vibration I could feel to my core. Creating ice giants I would paddle next to the following morning, coasting with them on their march towards total melt.
While outside of the Arctic Circle this summer, I wandered the boreal forests of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, feeling a sense of home. That wonder I have felt so often, hit me abruptly when I turned the corner in the lush, fern filled forest to find nothing, but what seemed to be death. The floor barren of new growth, trees for many meters, empty of needles and leaves. It was the first time I felt unwanted in a landscape, which made it even more intriguing. By myself, hearing only the crashing waves of a distant shore, cornered by sharpness and decay. I was alive.
This forest was brought to me by my artist residency at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design. While my weekends were brimming with oceans and forests, I spent my week grinding away on a series of drypoint prints of my time in Greenland. I worked my hands beyond what they were used to, blistering from the repeated seven hour days of engraving copper plates with precision and detail. The prints, plus more added once I returned home, create the series, Land Behind the Mountains. The prints, while secured in a handmade box, are meant to be illuminated. Show the ice and water as a beacon. These illuminations will be exhibited later this fall in a solo exhibition of my work, To Last Frontiers, so images will be sparse until then.
The title of this post comes from a quote by Finnish writer, Eva-Lis Wuorio. Every night the river sings a new song, much like never being able to walk through the same stream twice. This writing came to mind as I stood at the convergence of a river and the ocean in Nova Scotia. Waves fighting each other, pushing in both directions. When we return to a place, even the most static, it is not the same as it last stood in front of you. There are some landscapes that you will never have the joy of seeing again at all.
“There is a love that no one remembers” playwright Jon Fosse writes, an evocative thought that I cannot help but mull-over when reflecting on these areas filled with unknown complexities. Places that, if not for my physical reflections, will be lost with time.