The Princess Royals

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The Princess Royals

Being an historian isn't an easy occupation because I often feel stranded in two worlds struggling to reconcile them.  That's my sense of today while embracing the panorama from this mountain top.  The location reminds me of another time and space I witnessed from a desolate cliff on the east coast of Banks Island.  The Princess Royal Islands appeared as two mysterious black dots immobile in a sea of white, ragged ice that was the Prince of Wales Strait. Up close, the islands are barren and foreboding rock outcrops.  Stranded sailors of the ice-bound HMS Investigator experienced them in a similar way in the summer of 1853.  Attempts to discover a Northwest Passage were met with repeated failures.  Unaffected, the Arctic concealed its navigational secrets for centuries.

Decades have passed since I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked eastward from Banks Island.  Now, so much of the Arctic is blue rather than white.  Cold waters lap the shores of my remembered islands.  Passengers can explore the Northwest Passage in the comfort of luxury cruise ships offering unimpeded travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along a northern route.  Starving polar bears stagger hopelessly on dry land searching for food.  Inuit stories tell of little red-breasted birds never seen before as robins find their way onto Banks Island. The Arctic is changing, and its impacts are rapidly spreading globally. 

What technology couldn’t accomplish in hundreds of years with copper-sheathed wooden hulls, modern technology has inadvertently mastered with pollutants congesting the atmosphere in just decades.  Many of those 19th-century British exploration vessels were unable to retreat when frozen solid into the unforgiving sea of Arctic ice.  Maybe we can prevent my islands from becoming submerged beneath warm waters by walking back our carbon footprint.  

 


Submitted: July 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 rick-54. All rights reserved.

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