In our small bay of refuge, we rest for the evening. The trials of a day tangling with ice flows has been both physically and emotionally taxing, and we enjoy a moment of reprieve.
The bay we’re moored in is crescent shaped and has several pieces of sea ice nestled to its far side. It’s defined by a sweeping band of gravel separating the ocean from a smaller lagoon behind, a patch of calm that visually extends our bay back to appear like a triangle of water with an arc of gravel tracing through it.
Sheltering the bay to the east is a small hillside of shattered limestone stacked in benches, almost castle like in form. I stroll to the top to take in the view of Sellwood Bay and stumble upon two small oval depressions in the landscape each surrounded by large pieces of rock. Both depressions are similar in size, roughly 10ft x 5ft, and are cut into the hillside to garner protection from the wind, the wind that’s been strafing us today.
Seven years ago while walking the beaches of King William Island with local historian Louie Kamookak we would discover a similar site. It was over 800 years old, caribou bones still scattered about the floor, evidence of a meal long ago eaten, frozen in a time.
Several months ago, before embarking on this adventure, I decided I’d share my journey with my two young daughters in a very special way. I’d write a message to each of them (Caitlin 9 and Arianna 7) and address them as my daughters in the future, to the two young women I anticipate they’ll become. It was more emotional than I anticipated as I was transported to a time when I may no longer be with them. I rolled each note into a small scroll, added a personal item for each girl and placed them in a small sealed PVC tube. I have the PVC tube with me now and I place it adjacent to one of these ring sites, one snapshot in time resting beside another.
If my daughters want to retrieve their notes they’ll need to travel north to find them. They’ll need to experience the arctic themselves, they’ll need to experience a place that is deeply important to their father, a place that may be profoundly changed when they get here.
I place the small time capsule under a large piece of limestone and take a GPS reading. The rest is up to my girls.