THE NORTHERN LIGHTS PART 3- Bidding Farewell
A rather unexpected sight caught my eye as I returned for Deck duty the next afternoon. The near zero visibility had ceased and the foggy sea smoke had subsided, to unravel the sight of the neighboring town. As of last night, the boundaries of the port terminal were about as far as we could see, so the appearance of these buildings and structures seemed like they came out of nowhere.
It was a vintage Russian township- Old buildings, snow clad sloping roofs, houses with tinted windows and even some broken window panes.
It could easily have passed off as one of the missions of Project IGI (One of my favorite FPS games growing up). Ever so steadily, the clearing fog revealed that the entire terrain from mountain to sea level was buried under snow. Our ship was no exception and the sight of an ice-laden vessel was quite stunning. It was the first time I had witnessed snow in such copious amounts. The little boy inside me wanted to dive right in, make snow-angels, build a snow man maybe, it was all up for grabs and so I had to remind myself that I was on a job, for another few hours at least.
The first thought that came to mind was about how superbly “WHITE” it all was. So much so that even the faint twilight caressing the snow-clad region caused a blinding reflective glare.
A scripture came to mind in which God said He cleanses us whiter than the fresh snow. I had not seen anything as pure and without blemish as this before, so a degree of higher purity was simply unfathomable. The Words in the good book could not have become more real. I spent a moment in prayer and gave thanks to God for this mighty act of heavenly grace.
Several days turned into a week and then some more. The onset of snowfall every now and then kept delaying cargo operations and it dragged three days of work up to a good fourteen.
Though the physical work was very demanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the everyday sights and sounds of a winter wonderland. It was an unforgettable visit to the Arctic after all and soon the cold seemed to bother us but a little. I for one, really started to make the best of the little things that only the cold could offer.
When off watch, we had snowball fights, took pictures, made a snow man even thus giving a warm touch to the otherwise sub-zero town of Murmansk.
Alas, it was time to bid farewell to the North!
As we commenced departing from berth, the scene was very much like when we first arrived. The mystic sea smoke engulfed the CS Caroline from the sea up in a dense, chilly cloud as if it did not want to let us go.
Though the unprecedented cold was a deterring factor, I had come to grow fond of Arctic Russia and bade a nostalgic farewell to this wondrous land..
As if returning my gesture, the sky once again lit up with an emphatic display of dense green Aurora, the sight of which left me breathless! And for one last time I watched the Northern Lights dance in the sky as they lazily swayed over our vessel and passed us by!
One thing I did miss here though, was the sun! After not catching a glimpse of it for well over two weeks, I’d begun to realize how much of a role it played! The absence of that bright celestial orb certainly made the days gloomier than they were. One could barely call it a day at all since the five hours of dim twilight was all the season afforded us.
So, at the close of this enthralling chapter, as I bid adieu to one set of nocturnal lights, my eyes eagerly searched the skies to behold once again the long awaited warmth of another, familiar, brighter one- Our sun!