The Boreal forest was deep in snow. Rime-ice sunlit on birch trees. Herald of spring, a black-bellied dipper splashed in a stream with ice-fretwork. A male appeared, mated with her and was gone in an instant. Sunlit ice prisms floated in the air, translucent lozenges of ice, scintillating diamond dust.
The Spring Equinox 2006. I was in Arctic Finland and north-eastern Norway.
I thought of Jane Eyre ensconced in her window seat with Thomas Bewick’s History of British Birds. She muses upon this coast of northern Norway and the North Cape, ‘the stormy Hebrides’, and Spitsbergen. ‘Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own’, she tells the reader, whilst dreaming of ‘farthest Thule’. Man may travel no further and reality must give way to imagination, Bewick tells his nineteenth-century reader. But Jane has just outlined my itinerary for 2006.
Man may travel no further and reality must give way to imagination, a watch-word for the constraints of 2020 and into the New Year. Let us go, in wonderment, into the realm of the imagination.
One night in March 2006 , we stood with our feet in snow listening for owls and watching the Aurora Borealis. So wrapped up snug against the midnight cold we could not hear the music of the Aurora, the aural Aurora.
21 December 2020, the shortest day. The optimum night to see The Christmas Star, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. I watched the sun go down and searched the evening sky for The Christmas Star. Christmas lights twinkled and shone about the houses below and as daylight faded those lights showed brighter and gradually lights came on over the town and toward the fells to the east. A serene and magical scene.
Brian Cox explores where science and music meet in an exploration of what our brief lives might mean in what may be an eternal universe. What science teaches us this year is to learn to live with doubt.
Wonder is full of curiosity, of questioning and awe. Where science and imagination meet. Science is to seek to know and to accept that the universe evolves and so our knowledge must evolve too.
BBC radio 3 Afternoon Concert Light in the Darkness season
Scientist Brian Cox explores what it means to be mortal in an eternal universe. With music by Sibelius, Charles Ives, Mahler
BBC radio 3. 26 December 2020. Between the Ears: Songs of the Sky ‘As Climate Change affects seasons and natural landscape within the Arctic Circle the Northern Lights are the one constant. Karin Lehmkuhl Bodony turns the lights into sound with environmental composer Matthew Burtner.
My ventures into the Arctic Circle 2006 are an extract from About Scout Scar.
A remarkable programme, not to be missed.