30 December 2009

degrees of cold

"When your nose begins to feel prickly inside, you know it's below 15," Peter told me.  "Below zero, of course." The moisture in your nostrils freezes.  At -20, Peter's clothing crackles.  Uwe said that once he stood still for ten minutes watching a weather balloon launch in air 40 below and his cheeks developed white frostbite spots the size of 5 kronor coins.  That's roughly the size of a quarter.   He admitted that he forgot to move around.

Temperatures in Kiruna are starting to dip below -28 C at night.  Last night I walked through the woods for 15 minutes and my eyelashes gathered a rime of frost that looked like the beginning to a good Halloween costume.  With the full moon nearly upon us, it is light enough without low clouds to venture out at any time of night.  The moon will not touch the horizon for at least another week.

photograph taken at IRF yesterday around 2:30 p.m.

20 December 2009

nektonic drifters

a world snowcoated in silence three feet deep.
I caught the snow and the sky in a game of simon says.
favorite subaerial precipatory transport process, anyone?

19 December 2009

midday twilight

no nacreous clouds yet, but this image was taken around midday in Kiruna.

17 December 2009


Omarama, New Zealand.
December 7

15 December 2009

Välkommen till Arktis

Sometime on the train we crossed into the Arctic.  I woke up with the carriage to myself just north of Umeå and everything was covered in snow.  Feet of snow.  Thick.  Like icing smothering an undeserving cupcake.

Two colors told it all.  Black conifers balancing thin white snowdrifts out to their limbtips. A blackblue sky.  Ground white as eyes, textured like etched glass.

Kiruna won't see the sun again until after the first week of January.

I left New Zealand Saturday evening with the Pacific scent of summer on my breath.  Before the flight, I waited quietly in a park munching my last bit of smoky sausage, my backpack at my feet, beneath two rainbows that appeared briefly before the sky flushed a husky orange.

I flew in the belly of a 400,000 pound beast. Two wings, three wheels, and four Rolls Royce engines licking five gallons of fuel per mile. (That's how many polar bears, Carson?)  We lost the sun before we took off, found it near the coast of California, lost it once more over Canada, and finally caught up with it south of the Outer Hebrides. The giant cleavage between Scotland's highlands and its lower half peered up at us until the low clouds took it away. In Stockholm's afternoon darkness, I climbed aboard a train.  Seventeen hours later, I stepped onto an icy platform in Kiruna.  2 p.m. The sky a deepening blue.  Another eighteen horus before twilight.
My new field clothes. Tomorrow's forecast is -21 degrees C. One winter the temperature dipped to 40 below.
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