9 tagged with #kungsled

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lessons from the arctic (3)

in time, you will learn to cherish the windy stretches, and the rainy stretches, and the chilly stretches. this is because you'll have to pull on your shell and raise the hood, cinching it firmly around your chin and your cheeks, to protect your soft body from the world. despite your best efforts, your lips will still be chapped, your nostrils gently cracking as they dry out while simultaneously dripping snot.

but you will cherish these moments because of how wonderfully isolating they are. ahead and behind you, other people; some of them you've been near continuously for days. in these moments, you cannot speak to each other, for the sounds of your voices are muffled by your scarves, and the rustling of tough fabric around your ears crushes their replies.

in some moments, you may notice something you have to tell your hiking partner, so you learn to pitch one or three or four syllables above the roar of the wind. 'blaze!' you might yell, hoping they turn to see you pointing off to the left, where they didn't yet look. slowly, though, you understand one of the many reasons people who spend most of their lives in this part of the world tend towards a concision of speech.

when you return to a more loquacious setting, you might find it hard to make small talk again. it's okay; just mimic what other people say.

31 August 2018 21:23

lessons from the arctic (2)

sometimes there are frogs the size of your thumbnail and frogs the size of your palm. sometimes a dragonfly will fearlessly land on the tip of your boot, hitching a ride for a stride before catching a boost and flicking itself back into the bog. sometimes a twisted root catches your eye, but it's not a reindeer antler. sometimes a dead branch will catch your eye, but it's not a reindeer antler.

sometimes, you take a break from watching your footing and look up to see a reindeer peering quizzically over the rocky ledge at you, its antlers forming a near complete circle as if it could telegraph its question to you: who are you?

in the middle distance, metal clangs hollow across the mist, and your new friend tosses his head and bounds back to join the herd.

29 August 2018 21:03

lessons from the arctic (1)

the glacier milk cuts your throat. when you drink it, you're left confusingly parched, until you look back at the rock face getting sandblasted smooth by x gallons per second of bluish-grey torrents. when you cup your hands in it, you realize it's the same color as the dirt when you peel back the moss for your cathole, the same color as the dusty-looking plants ringing the bog, a duller version of the uninterpretable glow from the distant glacier above you.

when you let the water fall back into the stream, it leaves the space under your fingernails black; no matter how gently you swallow, that's what sticks to your throat and churns your belly.

27 August 2018 20:20


the night is pleasingly dark, now, and the trees seem strangely tall. why are the streets so green? how is the morning sun so golden? i wouldn't have thought a month in a strange landscape would turn my brain so much.

for hours, all i smelled were dirty socks, as we released compressed dirty clothing and exploded wool and nylon into the room.

phrases pass through my head, from strangers:


"you need to use a computer," said the man with glasses behind the counter, pitching his voice so we could hear it over the fryer. i stared at him blankly, confused, sleep-deprived, jet-lagged. "you can borrow mine. follow me."


"helicopter." i looked around, shading my eyes from the harsh unsetting sun, trying to follow the sound; i was still unaccustomed to tracking that thrumming rhythm through the valleys.

"is it landing here?" i asked, almost jokingly.



"i should not say this, but..." she trailed off, looking around at the lush greenery, trying to find the right thing to advise us in the midst of a fire ban. "it's been so wet lately."


all of these memories will eventually slip away.

23 August 2018 19:54

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