Thursday, July 9, 2015

And then there are glaciers...

There aren't many things that move me emotionally. Emotional tears just aren't my thing. I seldom cry at movies, over books, or stories meant to tug the heart strings.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not unemotional or cold-hearted. I just don't let my emotions fly from either end of the spectrum. When they do fly, it's usually on the side of anger. Honestly, I find the touchy-feely side of human emotion to be discordant with my pragmatist ways.

But then, there are glaciers. And glaciers can change everything.

During a recent trip to Alaska (my dream vacation), I visited the Hubbard Glacier, North America's largest tidewater glacier. As our cruise ship approached the gigantic glacier, naturalists on board shared facts and encouraged passengers to get outside to experience the full sights and sounds of the glacier.

The Hubbard Glacier
They speak, you know. Glaciers speak. Termed "white thunder", the movement of the ice rivers and the colliding ice crevasses creates loud and sudden booms that sound much like thunder, even though the sky is clear. On the crowded deck -- hundreds of people stood hauntingly still and quiet -- awestruck at this amazing ice river. Watching and waiting to hear. And then it happens. The thunder. White thunder. And the breathy gasps of onlookers.

But it wasn't the thunder that moved me to tears. It was something much, much smaller.

As our ship drifted in the milky, silt-laden water beside the glacier, the naturalist pointed out the small trails of ice floating from the glacier. "Listen closely," he said, "as the ice speaks to you -- weaving it's tales of life."

These aren't just rivers of ice. They are rivers of life -- flowing from the four hundred year old ice fields where they were born -- making its way from soaring mountains to water's edge. It's here to tell you its story. The story of how it has traveled far from its icy home to bring sediment and soil and nutrients to the fjord that sustains an amazing variety of life.

"Listen as the ice speaks to you."

And it did. Crinkling, crackling, crunching, snapping, and popping, like Rice Krispies in a bowl of milk. Softly, but just loud enough to perceive it -- if you listened intently.

As I so often do, I slipped the coil magnet of my CI from my head to compare my CI hearing against my hearing-aided ear.. The sound was lost. But with the CI, the ice streams spoke to me. It was a moment I found because of this marvelous piece of technology I love to hate. I can hear.

And then I cried.

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