Wednesday, 13 June 2012

On our way to Alta

We have left Tromsø behind, but have retained a wealth of knowledge and experiences gleaned from our time there.

Polaria is a Museum compound with a conglomerate of buildings introducing topical subjects of interest to Norwegians and all citizens with Arctic/Antarctic concerns. Thus they’re subjects which should concern all of us. Of most interest to me were the projects presented by students from the University of Northern Norway (fortunately in Norwegian and English). Oil exploration and drilling and its effects on the environment was one topic. Another was fish farming … how fish diseases are transmitted and how the spread of disease can be controlled. The students tried to address all the implications of the subject – including how (despite the undeniable negative effects of oil spills or infection of fish species) the positive benefits of these enormously lucrative businesses gave the country more economic and political stability and reduced unemployment (also an important topic to poor students everywhere!) 

The seals were getting a lot of attention from the rest of the public but we had a happily-reminiscent time looking at the huge wolf eels, halibut and other fishes in the aquarium. Most beautiful to me was a lovely little tank full of bright pink coralline algae, variously-coloured anemones, sea stars and blennies – the amazing semi-rounded acrylic glass which protruded out into the gallery allowed the fish to swim right up to our astonished gaze. An MSc student of marine biology (studying harp seal eating habits) showed us around. As with all aquaria, this one is struggling for funds. A new tank is needed to keep the aggressive species from eating most of the other inhabitants – it’s a fish-eat-fish world!

Our other treasured visit was to the Polar Museet – a wonderful older building echoing with the optimism and joy of discovery of the early Northern explorers – Norway is justly proud of the amazing talents of Amundsen and Nansen to name just two individuals. The exhibits tried to balance this with the fact that without the generous gifts of knowledge given to the Europeans by the peoples of the North – the Sami, the Inuit and the indigenous people across the Arctic, none of the map-making and trail-blazing could have taken place. The exhibits also showed the accomplishments of the many trappers (including women!) who earned a living in the North – fighting polar bears and isolation to survive in the wilderness.

Linde and Linda
We’re so happy/lucky to have aboard our friend Linda Thom from Ottawa – we’ve known each other a long time. She and her husband Don befriended me while I was living nearby as a single mom and teaching primary school. As she’s done so often when she visited me, Linda brought her gold medal (L.A. 1984 Olympics in Women’s Pistol Shooting) to astonish other visitors to our saloon. We’re hoping that only her photo-shooting abilities will be called into play IF we get to Svalbard and IF we meet any polar bears. 

Tromsø Cathedral
The beautiful Tromsø Cathedral has a wonderful 42-stop, 3-manual new Grönlund (Swedish) organ. We were lucky to get to several fabulous concerts by virtuoso organist Linde Mothes – she generously invited me up to see the organ – I declined playing (it’s been 7 years since I was able to practice).

Mozart Piano Duo
We reciprocated with an invitation to lunch on Traversay III and we enjoyed a musical dialogue there … such a welcome guest … and a rare joy for me to make music with someone of her calibre.
Now we’re on our way under interesting, cloudy skies to visit “Opportune” and Rune in Alta, Norway

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