Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Setting Sail Today

As I prepare to leave Palmer, I find that I have more questions than before I arrived. I am overflowing with fresh perspectives and new ideas. The fluttering in my stomach suggests that I have been changed by these people and this place.

Looking back, I am embarrassed by my ignorance. Even those parts of my not knowing that have been erased by this journey still cause me shame. I thought it would be colder on this most southern continent. I thought this would be a black and white world, not one infused with brilliant blue-green or patched with rich shades of orange and yellow. I thought we had plenty of time to fix the hurt we are inflicting on the earth. I did not think I would miss the stars. I did not know I would be pierced to the core of my being by the sharp cries of the glacier dying.

Whether I am walking the coast, or sitting by a window and writing, or boating to one of the islands, I hear the glacier crying. She breathes the burning air, and her lungs collapse. She groans. She turns her face to the sun and loses clumps of hair to the fire. She presses into the earth, sloughing skin in giant handfuls. She screams. I fear her passing. Tears brighten my eyes.

I have come too close, sounds of the glacier dying will echo forever inside my head. I touched her. I cannot pull away—the palms of my hands are frozen to her skin.

My soul stepped onto the peninsula sleepy and complacent, it leaves wounded and afraid, but fear makes me stronger. And while I know the earth has plenty of time to heal, the knowledge that my own people teeter on the edge of extinction scares me.

(Photograph courtesy of Dan Jennings)


Anonymous said...

Wow! Anthropomorphizing the glacier. I like it! This really has a great effect. It never occurred to me before to imagine a glacier with feelings and how the obvious death that Climate Change will bring for the glacier. Great work. Worth the wait.

Arturo said...

Thanks for taking me with you, Kate. And now: safe journey home. I am so proud of you.

Tom said...


Thank you for including me and the rest of us in your adventure. This is among the coolest things I've ever heard of anyone doing.

Anonymous said...

Questions of environment aren't even being considered in presidential stump speeches. People believe in the last minute rescue--but that doesn't always happen. How long before we see devastating changes where we live--how long before it truly is too late?...ben

Tom said...

Since Kate apparently is not going to say so, she made it back safely to Colorado.

Human Katherine said...

I wanted you to know that I read this.
Right now, I can not find the words to express the pain I feel, the loss, the helplessness...
HUGS and more hugs...because that's all I can do.