It is almost awkward to be in the world of light, trees, and birds again. The noise and chaos of the group over the last two weeks remain in my head and feel familiar now in the sounds of Oslo, children, motors, bikes. The space of the fjords and mountains is closed in by buildings and blocks. Withdrawal from Svalbard physically is too abrupt. The reality of trains and city and money return to the fore and leave me turning inward again. Shy and reserved. New space. New head. New. Again.
The sun has been above the horizon for some time already today and will continue there for several more hours. The light is strong, almost harsh – a beautiful sunny day in Oslo in October. Rather unusual. There is no snow in sight and the trees are full of autumn-colored leaves. How did I get here?
Tomorrow is the first leg of the last leg. Oslo to Newark.
I need time to reflect and process. I need to put photos and places together, I need to fill in the many gaps of things that happened and the things I saw.
For today, I plotted a course through the botanical garden and I’ll walk through the university as well. See what I see.
I met a friend of a friend at a coffee shop this afternoon. She was great. We had a lovely conversation. She was the mayor of Longyearbyen for many years. First arriving there to introduce the university research branch. Apparently very successful at that. And, as it happens, she is also the wife of the Mayor of Oslo. She worked for the UN on the climate change panel. She’s smart, ambitious, and looking to the climate/emigrant/world changes that affect all of us.
I came from the burning west to the melting Arctic. The changes are evident. How could I not see that? And why did I have to travel so far to identify this issue? Connecting Cooper with Svalbard seemed obvious but now connecting Ashland to Svalbard seems more obvious and more necessary. Shifting my focus and adjusting my perspective was anticipated.
I used the analogy of the wars. How does that go? – They came for the socialists, the trade unionists, the Jews, but I was none of these and I did not object, it was not my business. And when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me. [First they came… by Martin Niemöller]
When Bangladesh is underwater, and Sudan reaches 50ºC (122ºF) on a sustained basis we don’t blink. What happens when the permafrost no longer exists and the seed vault is flooded, Europe is on fire, and what was once productive farmland is desert? Who will hear the complaints? Who will rescue us? All of us?