Today I am grateful for … having woken to watch a trail of sunny-apricot fluffy clouds wander across a blue sky, like a string of elephants making their way across land … grateful for standing outside in my pyjamas in the garden with my first coffee of the day enjoying the air dance around me, before rain stopped play … grateful for my for Dad listening to (one of) my (seemingly) never ending rants with the understanding that it is not directed at him & with the acceptance that once in a while, this is a useful way for me to process & access what’s really important within me … grateful for Brandon Stanton of Human’s of New York fame for his story & for his inspiration, for daring to be different … grateful for being Me. It’s not always easy for me, or anyone else for that matter. Being true isn’t easy, but I’m grateful that I’ve learned it’s the path of least resistance to happiness & success … grateful for Judith Morgan for introducing me to Ladies Who Impress & Sarah Weldon’s Oceans Project which led me to sponsor her ‘Tour’ & (get this) get my name fledglingonfire on the side of the boat! Which then led me to discover the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show in London … grateful for Claire of Raking the Moon‘s thoughtful five star review of my memoir Dream Seed Magic ~ A Journey Beyond My Imagination, on Amazon … grateful to Paulette Waltz of @5THINGSaDAY who inspired me to join her Twitter gratitudes recently, which led me to leap at the opportunity to join the beautiful Julia Elmore of Be Creative Daily to express & explore #GratitudeDaily through the month of February with an amazing group of women … THANK YOU … With Love, fledglingonfire xx
Every accent of any colour seems to possess a magical exuberance to fluoresce in the dark & light of the Arctic Circle. Colour, light & warmth glows everywhere. There is life throughout this frozen kingdom … With Love, fledgling on fire xx
It was -10*C outside in the Arctic Circle, whilst relaxing inside with Norwegian apple cake & a really good latte from the coffee shop on Deck 7 of Hurtigruten’s MS Finnmarken. The mid afternoon sky was ink black, except for a soft turquoise skyward glow. No, not the Aurora Borealis this time, but almost as magical. I am told, MS Finnmarken is the only ship in Hurtigruten’s eclectic ship-to-suit-every-mood fleet to offer a pool. But not just a pool. After tentatively placing bare feet across patches of ice on the surrounding wooden decking, breath bated, I lowered myself into the solitude of the pool as its steam reached to comfort me. Submerged in serenity, I swam in the outdoors under an Arctic sky, with the salt water lapping from side to side as Finnmarken swayed gently on her course to Kirkenes, at the Russian border. If I was quick (it definitely had to be quick) I could make the transfer from the relative cool of the sea water pool to the relative warmth of the jacuzzi, without the water on my feet freezing me to the deck. Bubbles partied, stars twinkled, for a moment, there was nothing & no one else … With Love, fledgling on fire xx
It’s mid-afternoon & I am greeted with Arctic Circle air scented with husky. In an introduction to the puppy kennel, happy, furry, blubber-bundles of friendly inquisitiveness attempt co-ordination of inexperienced limbs to explore new visitors in the dark. Paws stand on boots unapologetically, gentle mouths comfort themselves on sheep-skin mittens, low-level bodies lean against human legs & attention seeking limbs drape over human arms. Others find fun in dangling scarves, or work together to pull boot laces, only to knot each other’s confusion. An adult husky piddles up a visitor’s leg, “Oh well, it happens!” exclaims our kennel guide. We are paired onto sleds. Working huskies cry out their excitement like an orchestra preparing to perform. Sat at the back in front of the driver, my fellow sleddee sits before our pack of 10 dogs. Only an anchor in the snow, holds back all enthusiasm. Until go! Suddenly, focus & teamwork. Two females steer at the front, two males power from the back. Silently & merrily pulling us across the snow & through the air. Weaving between twiggy trees, over snow-smothered bumps between deep hallows. Their silence is serene until a cacophony of complaint as we stop. Whining & whimpering, rolling in snow & slurping lumps for refreshment. Gliding again effortlessly under bright stars in a black sky, above diamond-dust twinkling over the surface of the blue-white lit snow. And all the time the cold gnawing at cheeks, numbed only by the thrilling magic of the experience. Our dogs dutifully return us, I thank each one of them in turn. Seemingly forever happy to have my attention, they soon turn their attention to when they can run again … With Love, fledgling on fire xx
Act I: Just as MS Finnmarken was docking in Svolvaer, a veteran Hurtigruten Norway-Arctic-Circle-coastal-voyage passenger & chaser of all things auroral, pointed out an insignificant cloud-like wisp in front of us. “I think that’s it!” he said. Even though I could barely see anything, I gasped as I felt a magical wave of mysterious excitement rush through me. Moments later on the quay side, another shy spirit of mist appeared in our otherwise crystal clear arctic night. I pointed my camera for it to capture the colours. If that was to be the only aurora activity for the remainder of my trip, I would be satisfied. But it wasn’t, there was more the come … For the next two hours, back on board the ship as it continued our northward voyage, all passenger eyes adjusted to the the vast sweeping bands of feint mythical light as she arced magnificently above mountain peaks. Her rainbow-like demeanour appearing & disappearing across some other sky …
Act II: Lady Aurora’s appearance on the following night most certainly was not a repeat performance. Smaller in scale, she danced across the sky. Faster moving, she swirled & twirled like wisps of chimney smoke playing with the wind. And she was easier to see with the naked eye as she unravelled from knotted shapes into ribbons streaming in an imaginary breeze, holding our attention to brave the cold into the early hours …
Act III: At dinner, we were enjoying dessert when it was announced that Lady Aurora was gracing us with her presence for a third night. Someone might as well have shouted “Fire!” as people rushed to empty the restaurant to chase more insulating clothing. Lady Aurora’s finale, now easily visible with the naked eye, leaping effortlessly from pirouettes into the night, sometimes in more than one direction, was on a scale to challenge many a photographer’s camera lens. Her rhythm changed quickly as she danced to her own silent tune in her costume of pulsating colours. This was my final night on board. As I finally turned out the light of my starboard cabin, she appeared boldly, blushing through her shyness opposite my window. I gasped. Had she come to say goodbye? Fumbling in the dark for my camera I waved to thank her for the privilege. And after a hasty camera shot, the night was once again black. She was gone. Until next time, maybe.