What is it that is so special about Svalbard? This is a question no doubt many people have asked, including the host for “Minutt for Minutt” Kari Toft. That show was slow TV showcasing all of Svalbard where they filmed us here at Bamsebu on Feb 8th. Really what is it about this place that fascinates so many? What draws people to fly from the deepest corners of the world to experience all that is here? The answers are numerous and for many it is the geographical position – it is the closest you can get to the North Pole – about 1300km from Longyearbyen to reach the point where the earth squeaks on its axis. Here it is Arctic tundra, a harsh environment where hardly anything grows – you will never see a tree here. Lucky for us we have many logs that have drifted all the way from Siberia and washed up on the shores that we have been able to collect and use for necessary firewood. The wildlife that is so overwhelmingly rich and diverse with hundreds of thousands of birds that migrate here every summer. A summer that is short and demanding with a fight to deliver the offspring, right at the edge of possibility for any survival.
Most of all it is the light. The wondrous Arctic light. One thing is the extreme shift with the 3 months of darkness – the long Polar Night and then 4 months of midnight sun but it is what happens in between these book-end seasons where the magic happens. That magic is happening right now for us. We are in it! The Arctic landscape and surroundings are waking up after 3 months of a long dark night. Awakening from its hibernation. Soon daylight will be upon us, almost at the snap of a finger.
Feb 8th, we literally and figuratively opened up the window shutters. They are 6cm thick and have 10cm nails on the outside. These wooden shutters have protected us from the polar bear visits and have provided necessary protection from the strong, unpredictable Arctic wind – the strongest measured to date was a hurricane at 34m/s!
This time of transition from dark to light holds a blend of light that is infinitely powerful and almost indescribable. Pastel colors that every atom of your being seem to inhale and absorb. They dance between the very soft l colors of pink, light blue, and tender purple all set against a backdrop of white. The feeling is that these colors invoke such warmth despite the -30 degree Celcius temperatures, like a blanket that has wrapped itself around the edges of this place. We can tell you that once you have experienced Svalbard at this time – it seeps into your soul with a penetration so deep, you are forever dusted by its magic! It is so out of this world that music has been written about it and infamous art created from it. This Arctic light is what people in Svalbard call “«Kåre Tveter lys». He was an artist that captured the feeling of the lights embrace. It is with this light that we feel connected to all things greater than us, a light that sheds a promise on the day and what is to come. A light we hope will always be here. We have been here close to 6 months, now is a time for reflection and hope for all that all is to come for us and the creatures around.
Our wish is for all to feel our fascination and utter amazement over the grand spaces we call mother nature! We wish we could write songs about the power this place has to transform and mobilise even the tiniest, most vulnerable forms into exuberant life! We wish we could paint this place for all to experience. Short of this, we encourage you all to find your own slice of magical light, in your own spaces. And find a way to light some hope into the conversation so that it never dims the possibility of protection and preservation.
Big hugs, Sunniva and Hilde
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