My old college friend Randy recently fulfilled a longtime dream by taking a boat to Antarctica. He gave me permission to publish this photo, which suggests something of the otherworldliness of this landscape.
I have had a long romance with the idea of cold, polar places. It stretches back to reading the biographies of polar explorers in my family's Childcraft volumes, which I read assiduously far longer than I should have. I checked out children's biographies of Amundsen, Peary, and Byrd from my library. This romance stretched into adulthood, though I added on a wing to it with an interest in Himalayan landscapes, and another special room in the romance for Alaska and the northern parts of Canada.
My friend's trip has made me think about the imagination's landscapes. Why would I, a girl who spent most of my growing up years in desert places, find an imaginary home at the poles? Why would I be drawn to the freezing stories of those explorers?
I'm thinking of the places in which I most like set my life's future story: the gorgeous wild coast of northern California; southern Europe; Alaska. What dimension of each--the bare wreckage of long-gone industries, and the smash-rock sea; the idea of fields of lavender; a map made of rivers and forests--ignites my dreams, catches my heart?