Hiking the Tundra and the Joys of Life

Reflection must be the most reliable compensation for choosing to believe that the present is inexhaustible. You live in it all until you realize it is all over, and so you turn to your memories and feel as much comfort as longing. This fixation with the past, somehow, always seems to compliment any strive for the future. I come back from the tundra with wisps of a fresh mindset (certainty will always be fragile) that I hope to knit into form and dimension. And so, today looms into yesterday and tomorrow.

I remember the supper at the fort. It was a clear day swooning with the smell of fresh hair and sea breeze. The supper was served on a blue dish – I remember the peanut butter dipped carrots the most – and was taken up to the walls of the fort. I kept on saying to my friend, “how perfect this day is”, “how perfect this supper is”, but really I wished I had kept my mouth shut and only opened it for chewing. There was a sun setting, and waves washing, and a sky searching, searching for a space to fill.

That night, the Northern Lights made an appearance above and within our hearts. This thought now (not then, for then I was breathing in the moment) swirls my memories towards Nestor. Nestor with the cries of loons in the night. Nestor with the strings of clothes blowing in crisp wind. It is one basketball net, five tents, two washrooms, one living room, one kitchen, and the best place on earth. Our host after exhausting days of heavy packs and young blisters. The thought of my sore feet during long hikes makes me want to hug Nestor and do it all over again.

Another step back in time, past the perpetual sound of the helicopter’s rotor within the sky, brings us back to the CNSC. Who would’ve thought this was only our first home out of many to come. Early mornings of granola and peach yoghourt, cleaning utensils, and organizing packs brought us one step closer to the field. We would return many hours later to the thought of showers, data entry, and supper. The night brought us out of our bunkbeds and outside on the deck and upstairs in the observatory dome. Stars and laughter weaved between our fingers. We were tired and we were free.

An ode to the train marks the beginning and the end. A wonder of the Old World, a legacy within the New World. Late at night, I watched – tucked in my sleeping bag, surrounded by dreaming folks – as the train stopped by a small rail station. Close your eyes to imagine: Dim fluorescent light spreading on the window train, old shadows greeting new shadows, and a hushed silence that touches void. Life is sleeping, and shall awaken to its own rhythm.

Finally. Every step of our way, the tundra was with us. It seeped from the edges of linearity and filled every curve and edge. The land was the foundation of everything and everyone we have come to love.

So let us not only complete the circle, but colour it in with texture… awe … gratitude.

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