In light of the major blizzard that struck the northeastern U.S. yesterday and the deep freeze that settled over much of eastern Canada a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d continue with the winter theme of some of my recent posts (see Retro Winter Travel and Recreation Ads and “Ice Break” by Astrid Blodgett) by sharing my praise for Jerry Kobalenko’s Arctic Eden: Journeys Through the Changing High Arctic. Although it first caught my eye over a year ago and has been sitting on one of my shelves awaiting my attention since then, perhaps because this wintry season’s colder than usual weather had set the right mood, I finally got around to reading it this past week.
Arctic Eden is part travelogue (or better put, adventurelogue), part historical overview of explorations of the High Arctic region of Canada, but mostly it is a beautiful showcase of Kobalenko’s exquisite photography of the stark and at times haunting landscapes of the rugged northernmost latitudes of Canada. Through the book Kobalenko, who is based in Alberta, narrates for his readers several sled-pulling treks through the extremities of Nunavut, including Devon Island, Axel Heiberg Island and Ellesmere Island, and he does it in such a way that one can readily visualize the experience of which he writes.
The text is nicely complemented by asides about early Arctic adventurers and local flora and fauna and the author’s stunning images that demonstrate his keen eye for the beauty of this harsh environment. While shades of white and blue dominate the landscape, I was struck by the much wider range of vivid colors than I expected in these images of the Arctic. What comes across most clearly is Kobalenko’s good-natured passion for outdoor adventure and his joyful appreciation for each visit to the High Arctic that he’s been privileged to make (apparently through much resourcefulness on his part). I should also note that in several places he acknowledges his wife, Alexandra, as his steadfast companion in adventure and in preparing key parts of the book. Undoubtedly, this thankful sensibility contributed to Arctic Eden’s receipt of the 2012 William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction with a polar theme.
I’ve posted above a handful of Kobalenko’s photos from the book, more of which can be viewed on his website (www.kobalenko.com). His website, by the way, is quite nicely laid out and has information on ordering this and his other books as well as his photos.
Photo Credits: Jerry Kobalenko