Today we awoke to a perfectly still day here in Glacier Bay National Park. The haze still hung above the cerulean water, its color changed by the glaciers that carved this massive landscape. I ran into an old friend here, Margerie. She was one of the first glaciers I met. Ever. It was good to see her again. She isn’t the same, but she is still fed by snow falling up in the mountain peaks that were freed by their cloudy wardens, at least for today.
I looked up at Margerie, like I did back in those years when I first started coming here. She looked down upon me, just like in the past, but not in contempt. It’s just how she looks at everyone, and you can’t help it when your visage is so massive.
I watched her move slowly into the bay, feeding ice and nutrients into the saltwater that gently laps against her face. Occasionally I’d look up to the sky where she basked in the sunlight. We ate breakfast with her and asked how her summer has been. Occasionally, she responded with a resounding calving, sending the harbor seals scurrying into the water below.
The thing people respect about Margerie is that she’s stable. She sits there, watching the tides flood and ebb. She watches the bears swim by, and the whales breach out in front, but she’s stable. But we’re worried about her, and she’s worried about herself, too. She might not say it, stable people rarely do. But she and all her colleagues out here are sweating. And we may think Margerie is one of the most stable of them all, but even stable glaciers recede when you turn up the heat on their peaks. So when she does talk, I try to tune in, to listen the best I can. I try to see if I can hear if each calving is a fantastic display, or a calling out about what she’s feeling like on the inside.
It’s hard to tell to be honest. I get so lost in those moments that I can’t really tell you what I thought, what any of us thought, except, “What a display.
At the end of the day, at the end of my breakfast with Margerie, all I could think was that it was so good to see this old friend. It was good to listen to her the best I could, and it was good to introduce her to some new friends. What more can we ask of her, of this park, than the chance to spend our days with new friends.