|Summer splendor, San Juan mountains, Colorado|
August 8. My first morning back in the US. COLORADO!! I wake at daybreak- courtesy of jetlag- to the lavish splendor of this temperate latitude, in awe. The tangle of oak and elder outside the bedroom window and the delicious fragrance of greenery after rain is puzzling at first, a little shocking to my senses. I’ve become too accustomed to Greenland’s stark horizon of rock and ice, and the pungence of rank seal blubber and sea. A hummingbird hovers outside my screened window, vibrant amidst vining purple clematis. Like dormant lichen gathering moisture after drought, I soak it up. I'm so content.
I left the Arctic in a dual state of inspiration and overwhelm. Here at home, I continue to be overwhelmed by the abundance that exists on so many levels: the lushness of the mountain landscape, the ubiquitous excess of food and amenities, the prevalence of conversation, chatter and gratuitous human interaction.
|Dusk becoming darkness at my wintering site in remote northern New Mexico.|
And ohhh… the NIGHT. I stepped off the airplane onto the tarmac late last evening, smiling into the velvety darkness. Shrouded by a blanket of stars overhead, I’d forgotten how the night calms me, enveloping and protecting me like the warm embrace of an old friend. Ahh, darkness- after 40 days of light.
|Young friends show me the way, La Plata River Canyon.|
August 9. I walked into the grocery store today and had a meltdown. (You mean I can have whatever I want?? But there are so many choices!) Avocados, eggplant, tofu, chick peas, and tamari-roasted almonds. Pears and spinach, fig cookies and peaches. Corn tortillas, coconut, arugula, jicama. I’m skinny since Greenland. I can’t possibly buy or eat all this. I consume visually, with my eyes, my hands pausing over tidy mounds of plums from California, grape tomatoes from Mexico. Squeeze. To have so much- is this bounty or gluttony?
I am giddy with the effortlessness of communication, and from being in a place where people know and care for me. It’s not just the commonality of a shared language, it’s also the sub-culture of familiarity. Both friends and strangers regard one another, often, with a fluency and ease that I find heartening. I can talk to people here. I can connect.
It’s hard to describe the sense of quiet
exuberance that possesses me at the moment.
I understand that it's the result of accumulated longing amassed beneath
and beyond my Arctic travels, magnified under the pressure of ten months away. Something in me releases now, and I breathe a
long exhale after waiting, enduring, thrashing over countless obstacles. Fulfillment after yearning. Relief.
My time in Greenland, though in many ways a refuge, was as austere as the rock and ice that surrounded me there. Returning to a landscape of green and a profusion of growing things echoes the renewed bounty of my internal landscape.
|Apache Plume, cyanotype photogram|
Postscript- August 31. I’ve been back three weeks now and my sense of wonder and delight in the world remains. Eventually the bustle will claim me again, but for now everything still sparkles, as light-filled and luminous as the ice of a northern glacier.