Arctic Life

Ny-Ålesund, you will be missed.

It started around a month ago. Suddenly and without a warning. I just got my Irish coffee after having eaten tacos on Friday the 10th of June and then I realized it. This would be my last taco Friday in Ny-Ålesund. For now. My mind calmed down again but last week it could not deny anymore the long list of “last” moments. Last for now. May I present you the “Last. For now. -list”:

Friday the 10th of June, 16:05 LT: The last TACO run.
Monday the 4th of July, 12:56 LT: The last weather balloon.
Friday the 8th of July, 19:15 LT: Leaving for the last cabin trip.
Saturday the 9th of July, 18:40 LT: The last Saturday dinner.
Saturday the 9th of July, 10:30 LT: The last Mellageret evening.
Sunday the 10th of July, 16:35 LT: The last time swimming the the fjord.
Sunday the 10th of July, 16:50 LT: The last time in the sauna.
Sunday the 10th of July, 18:40 LT: The last dinner.
Monday the 11th of July, 8:05 LT: The last breakfast.
Monday the 11th of July, 8:40 LT: The last check of the observatory.
Monday the 11th of July, 11:59 LT: The last ride in Goupil.
Monday the 11th of July, 12:05 LT: The last lunch.
Monday the 11th of July, 13:24 LT: The last time inhaling the smell of the trash room.
Monday the 11th of July, 14:25 LT: The last time almost bumping into tourists while driving Emily.
Monday the 11th of July, 14:45 LT: The last coffee.
Monday the 11th of July, 15:30 LT: The last hugs.
Monday the 11th of July, 15:30 LT: Definitely not the last tears.

The last weather balloon.

Ny-Ålesund, I will miss you. A lot.

I will miss the presence of friends and collegues. The company of people you know and people you care about, sharing funny talks, serious conversations or just plenty of moments of silence together. I will miss all the positive aspects of social control, it definitely weighs up to the lack of anonymity. I will miss the little delight of seeing the Ny-Ålesund folk just walking on the streets or driving by. Even though you see each other each day and you know almost everybody and are basically saying “hi” the whole time, the encounter of a known and friendly face is just a very nice thing.

I will miss the fixed meal times for everybody and the rhythm this gives to a day. It makes meeting up easier. I will miss not having to do groceries and not having to cook and do the dishes. I will miss the joy of a long brunch in the weekend and the lookout to the Jalapeno poppers.

I will miss the sounds and smells of the observatory. The sounds of the nitrogen liquifier, the air compressor and the air dryer, the sound of turning mirrors and blowing blowers. The smell of warm balloon latex when opening the heating oven where the balloons are stored and the smell of coffee in the seminar room.

I will miss the crappy radio calls nobody can actually understand. I will miss the awkwardness of the following:
Scientist: “alkjdhfpihasdökljföklsdfj dölakjdf aöldkfj” ;
AWIPEV: “This is Fieke, I do not copy, can you repeat?” ;
Scientist: “Sorry I did not copy, can you repeat?”
AWIPEV: “I do not copy, I repeat, I do not copy.”
etc.

I will miss the beauty of Kongsfjorden. The water, the mountains, the land, the glaciers, the air, the animals, the humans and all the other life. The options it gives to discover the area by foot, ski, scooter and boat. I will miss the starry nights, the northern lights and the cosiness of the winter, the snow-covered mountains in a pastel light in the early spring, the endless opportunities to go out during the polar day and the melancholy of the setting sun and the leaving birds in the autumn.

I will miss the sillyness of adult persons playing in the Arctic doing science. It is impressive how much time people spend doing funny things. People walking around with giant balloons, people looking for little zooplankton monsters in the lab, people catching fish and naming them, people using underwater drones with funny French accents, people carrying super expensive equipment around in Goupil, people letting super expensive equipment fly through the air, people laying flat on the belly on the wet tundra for measuring grass and being completely soaked afterwards, people walking around with an umbrella so they do not get completely shit on while inspecting the tern’s nest, people hammering sticks in the permafrost and having a hard time getting it out, people digging snow pits through several ice layers. And then having dinner all together after a hard day of work.

I will miss you, Ny-Ålesund <3

One thought on “Ny-Ålesund, you will be missed.

  1. Hi Fieke, even with a much shorter Ny-Ålesund experience I can grasp the vibe of your entry. Thank you for sharing. I hope you are well!
    Speaking of snow samples – I took two pictures of you with my pinhole camera on our trip for snow samples in April. And big news is I will publish a book with a selection of the pinhole camera pictures! I would really like to include the two with you in them. May I send you the pictures I am talking about and you see if it is OK to include them? All I need is an email address. Best and take care, Daniel

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