Bearing witness to a change of seasons is a most beautiful thing. You don’t hide from it. You observe, you experience it and you work to understand its many movements. Harsh weather and winters’ blanket are sneaking up on us. Here at Bamsebu in the Van Keulen fjord the water is starting to shape the months to come.
We have had 2 days of ice lining the shore, a solid symmetrical white band. The open water is starting to form into a slush as it crashes ashore. With the changing tides every 6 hours, the challenges for us are imminent. Our yellow boat is onshore and our red one is tethered to the buoy about 20 metres out. One of our daily tasks has to be making sure the lines are not frozen, the engines work and that we have carved out a path in the ice for the boat to come in and out. Why do we need a boat you ask? It is the only way we are currently collecting data for our fjordphyto/salt water samples for Alison at Scripps and it is currently our only mode of transport to meet the Bring cargo ship if and when it comes to bring us supplies.
We are vulnerable out here, but we are very capable and fully awake.
Food, water and wood preoccupy our daily thoughts. We have the supply of food we think we need until May but we could easily run out of key staples so we keep a close watch on anything that could spoil. This makes Sunniva think of the many times she have filled her fridge at home in Squamish only to have to travel the next week and in the process, some food spoils and some she can give away to neighbors. With it getting progressively colder outside, it’s harder to keep root vegetables ( beets, cabbage, onions, garlic, potatoes) from ‘turning’ so we rotate them and keep a close watch. All of the fresh water that is stored outside in large containers is now frozen so we make sure we have a barrel inside that can thaw. We are continually collecting, cutting and chopping wood. We have a Nordica oven made in Italy that is both our baking oven and heat source. Can we just tell you how wonderful it is to be outside for a few hours, fingers cold to the bone, only to come back inside the hut where it exudes warmth from the stove – bliss!
We even made our first home baked pizza a few nights back. Life’s little pleasures become our greatest!
October and April are two of Hilde’s favorite months. It’s during these months that she is never seen without her camera as she fills herself with its luminescence. After all of these years of living up here in Svalbard, the idea to overwinter and experience these magical shifts in light and color are a dream come true.
Sunniva is in a continual state of amazement over the changing light, the shadows on the distant white peaks, the many folds on the mountains that are Svalbard and the colors that are almost indescribable- hues of pastel, pinks, blues and lilac. Colors that warm your cold eyeballs and shower you with such magic.
This time of year is also when both Hurtigruten and Polar Latitudes (our employers) start their Antarctic season. We will live vicariously through both shipboard and home office teams as they ready for what we hope is a flawless, safe and successful season in the south.
Both of us are living in a profound state of gratitude. Our resting pulse rate is lower than it has been for years – there is no stress here, just that which we bring forward. We think of the many choices we all have over how we live, what we take, what we give. To choose to live here until May will have its challenges for certain. We hope that our simple lifestyle, our observations and our willingness to better understand the natural cycles of earth encourage you – the reader – to make small adjustments towards the simple, more curious parts of why you are here.
With the ice forming around us we cannot help but get excited about starting up our BRP/ Lynx snowmobiles that wait patiently for us. When there is no boat, there is a snowmobile!
With the full moon rising on us a soft band of northern lights brushes the lower atmosphere and we are in it! Embraced by the northern lights!
All the best from the Bamsebu babes!