Monday, December 8, 2008

Where Cold Performs the Effect of Fire

Barrow, northernmost tip of Alaska--300 miles north of the Arctic Circle; the photo was taken around noon in December 2008, and shows 'nautical twilight," the most light we can expect, and only for a few hours a day.

Forty-eight hours before I get to sleep again, this time on the plane to Barrow. Chiu, coming with me to film first attempts at paraglider aviation on the North Slope in Winter, is also woozy with endless preparations. But it's a familiar exhaustion, an old friend. Soon, I know, cold of the Arctic will revitalize my spirit. Soon I'll be flying an elegant wing over the frozen surface of an ocean.

In that place, as Milton put it in describing the ice cold of Hell,

"The parching air Burns frore,
and cold performs the effect of fire."

Speaking of Milton, my books for the trip -- Milton (Complete poems), a Granta volume of travel writing, Between Earth and Sky (on pioneering efforts in high-altitude ballooning), and the FAA Balloon Flying Handbook. A blank notebook as well, and some writing instruments.

Thanks to Chuck Sullivan for helping with food preparation and packaging! He'll be updating the blog with text, weather reports and images as available, starting on the 10th or 11th of December.



Jenny Muller said...

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.

Good luck!

ARP said...

That 'Between Earth and Sky' book sounds awesome ;)

Anonymous said...

It's doubtful you'll get this, but I still want to send you my very sincere wishes for a great and safe adventure!