Snowy owl small
The coast we observe as we row is rock strewn and bleak. Small patches of green are the only living respite in a world of rock in all its forms. It’s a brutal place, hostile and unforgiving.

For me, with sensibilities developed in a temperate climate, the arctic at first seemed vast and untenable, a veritable barren land without life. But mine is a slow voyage through this Northwest Passage and my eyes are allowed to linger on the landscape a little longer and as they linger life begins to peer back. It comes in the form of the piercing stare of a snowy owl, motionless in a state of ostensible indifference. It sneaks up upon me as a playful splash from a bearded seal, furtively approaching to investigate our craft, curious but cautious. It holds me captivated through the crazed gallop of young caribou running frantically down a beach, it’s head swinging wildly as if tortured by some invisible demon, a demon I know to be the mosquito.
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Life moves through the arctic in a very different way. It abounds at times and doesn’t exist at others. A river mouth will appear barren until it is teaming with arctic char, a lagoon placid and empty until a hundred
beluga speckle its waters porcelain white. Existence in the arctic is a tenuous balance but life here is strong, it is tenacious and it survives.