It's only an imaginary line. But since crossing it, our whole voyage has changed.
We passed the Arctic Circle at 7:26 this morning. From our cabin we could see the globe marker on a tiny island, designating that northern latitude. Overnight the landscape had been transformed to snow covered peaks dominating the background, with rugged terrain near shore. No longer were there brown open patches of grass. And the scattered enclaves of buildings looked especially remote. It was the definition of stark beauty.
Heightening the drama, the sun was just beginning to rise above the peaks. That scarce source of light had been eluding us until now, and its appearance was most welcome. Soon the snowy peaks were rimmed with a golden glow. The glacial mountain sides illuminated by the low early light. And blue sky reigned up above. It was a whole new world.
I will admit to witnessing this beauty from the seat of a bicycle. A stationary one at that, pressed up against the windows on the starboard side, facing the sunrise. Alone in the minuscule fitness center, I had a front row seat to the continually changing scene. While I knew I was missing the perfect opportunity to photograph this phenomenon, having committed to this workout I pedaled on, my eyes rooted to the display. I knew that Rich would not let this pass without capturing it, and rationalized that his photos would be far superior to mine. And with 45 minutes dedicated to this bicycle seat I would remain attentive to the scenery rather than trying to compose photographs, missing the live presentation. It was one of the most picturesque bike rides I've ever taken. And Rich came through with stellar photographs.
The morning was perfect for roaming the decks. The landscape changed constantly. Fishing boats, ferries and even a sailboat came into view. The light was constantly shifting. And the sun felt so good. This was what we came to do, and it was easy to while away the hours moving in and out of the sun and wind in search of more sights. Everything was so much more dramatic in the sunlight.
The Arctic Circle landmark did not go unmarked by the ship's crew, who staged an appearance by Neptune. Arriving with his trident, he and the ship's captain initiated the brave in a legendary ceremony from the deep. We knew it involved some strong spirits, but being allowed to imbibe first required a shivering cold dousing with a ladle of watery ice cubes down the back. Some participants were brought forward unwillingly, but Rich knowingly succumbed to the torchure. I kept well out of range until the frigid ingredients were exhausted, choosing instead a timid pose with Neptune.
For this trip, the Arctic Circle was the weather's dividing line between blasé and brilliant. It was well worth crossing.