The fascinating 79th latitude


11 December 2007

The fascinating 79th latitude

This morning, the sky is incredibly clear. All the stars of our system can be seen. The Milky Way is highlighted. I needn’t mention the plough, the Orionides, Cassiopeia. At the moment, one can go further in the details, Capricornus, the coach driver, Cygnus and her cross, the dragon, the lyre, the Square of Pegasus. These names, this visibility, and these auroras that are more and more present. Tara is swimming (excuse me, I mean drifting) in poetry.

The total lack of a moon reinforces the presence of the canopy of heaven. A few glimmers of light sometimes make the horizon line toward the south iridescent. In full polar night, we are heading toward light.
According to satellite maps, we are 60 km away from open water. Yet our ice island to which we are strongly latched onto, is maintaining its South West course which makes us go along the Greenland coast. Thus coastal navigation is continuing. And in this poetic universe, nobody knows when we shall exit from our white desert. Two weeks, one month or two? Everything now depends on the winds and currents.

Mais la perspective de passer noël sur la glace que ce soit dans les 79ème fascinants ou les 78ème appaisants n’effraient personne à bord, bien au contraire. Il me revient une phrase écrite par Nansen à bord du Fram, aussi en dérive il y a un siècle : « Maintenant je désire presque le retour de la nuit polaire avec son monde féérique d’étoiles, ses fantastiques aurores boréales et sa lune lumineuse poursuivant sa course paisible dans le silence d’une nature endormie. C’est comme un rêve, comme une échappée dans le domaine de la fantaisie et de l’imagination… »
Je crois que c’est exactement ce que je ressens. Une poésie éveillée vécue dans une grande sérénité. Car comme le Fram, Tara est un havre de paix.      

But the idea of spending Christmas on the ice in the 79th or 78th latitudes does not repel anybody. On the contrary. It reminds me of a sentence written by Nansen onboard the Fram, drifting one century ago.
“Now, I nearly desire the polar night’s return with its fairy tale world of stars, its fantastic aurora borealis and luminous moon that follows her peaceful course in the silence of sleeping nature. It is like a dream, like a walk through a land of fantasy”
I feel exactly like that. A living poetry dream experienced with great serenity. For like the Fram, Tara is a haven of peace.

Vincent Hilaire