The vanishing world of ice

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“Vanishing Ice,” the exhibit at the Whatcom History Museum, has been extended until March 16. I saw it on Friday, because I love looking at things that people classify as art and had a mournful feeling that I should learn more about climate change. I was a little sad that many of the paintings are reproductions, but as soon as I got there I was so overwhelmed by the images of the ice that I barely paid attention to anything else. Two of my favorite children’s books are The Golden Compass and East (a novel based on the Norwegian story East of the Sun and West of the Moon), and I loved the evil snow queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All my fantasy landscapes are encrusted with snow, ornamented with fur and reindeer bone, and infested with wolves.

Here is the beautiful ice: I loved Len Jenshel’s Narsaq Sound, Greenland, and Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, East Greenland, by Camille Seaman. I also liked Beechey’s illustration of the HMS Hecla in Baffin Bay, and Paraselene an illustration from Scott’s last 1912 expedition. The illustrator, Dr. Edward Wilson, died on that expedition along with Robert Scott. Ice Lens, by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, is also lovely, although I hope they at least send a Christmas card or something to Andy Goldsworthy).

Tiina Itkonen photographed Uummannaq, the village I would like to live in, proving that I am completely mad.

I did, however, find Chris Linder’s photograph of the melting Siberian permafrost at Duvannyi Yar pretty distressing. Frank Hurley’s photograph of Shackleton’s boat trapped in the ice at night is awesome, in the oldest sense of the word – it’s the livid ghost of a tragedy. And Chris Jordan’s Denali Denial is both witty and despairing, the picture that pulled me out of my icy dream.

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The icy dream at the top of the post is not from the exhibition; it’s a photograph provided by dmdzine under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license. Thank you.

Christmas: the residue

It looked beautiful until 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

It looked beautiful until 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.


I used to go all Norwegian on Christmas Eve – open flames, hard liquor, unwrapping all the presents and midnight church attendance, when available. I could not care less about Christmas Day. In my family, that was recovery time: turkey sandwiches with dill havarti and coffee with whipping cream instead of half and half.

Motherhood has made me cautious, and even lazier – no candles, no vodka, no cooking. I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas Eve dinner. She said she wanted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, which I joyfully provided. Later she said she was being sarcastic, which is very unattractive in someone that young. She ate all her sandwiches, though. She also opened all her presents, most of which were games – Apples to Apples, Balderdash, Clue, Yahtzee, Taboo. I like to find a theme and stick with it. Luckily, Rebecca and her daughters were on hand to provide opponents. After they left, we began to drowse over our backlog of unfinished Christmas presents, until the arrival of guests we had forgotten about inviting. (That is not unusual, and no reflection on their charm and wit.) We had not yet stripped down to t-shirts and underpants, so we were able to welcome them with a certain amount of poise. The gaming continued without me, but I refereed and churned out six pattern repeats of a hand towel for Rebecca’s mother.

We aren’t quite done with Christmas; I worked at the library yesterday and ate almost nothing but chocolate. I’d be sick if I had the energy. There are either fireworks or the beginning of a gun battle on the mainland, further proof that some families should restrict their interaction to Facebook. Our beautiful tree is gone, sent to E’s grandmother for safekeeping. The house is trashed although we only had six people over. Unfinished presents are now designated New Year’s gifts. There are rumblings about skating and a game night in January. My head hurts.

And yet I am so happy. My daughter had a lovely time. Rebecca and I are going to try to see the show, Vanishing Ice, at the museum in town. Thurid gave me one of the books I photographed for her. It’s so beautiful I had tears in my eyes when I opened the package. I did kundalini yoga this morning, which is like doing magic (I imagine). And I’ll confess that I am madly infatuated with someone I don’t know at all. No one will tell him, and that is, with no exaggeration, safer. But I haven’t felt this way for years, so I’m glad I have evidence that the ice in my tiny, black little heart has melted. And I will not do anything stupid.