"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in his toil." Ecclesiastes 2:24
In Svalbard there is a city called Longyearbyen, in Longyearbyen there is a bar which is named Kroa, in that bar there is a menu and on the last page of that menu is the above passage from the bible. I thought on this for some time as it struck me as a very suitable quote; not only for a restaurant but also its associations with the daily lives of the people in Svalbard and the time that I have spent here.
Some of the best moments I have had in Svalbard over the last couple of months have been centred around a table surrounded by friends and colleagues, with a nice drink, a plate of good food and all with a good laugh and the hard doings of the day behind us ;whether these hard doings involved you spending a day in a hole in the ground reading the sediment, being out at sea for seven days surrounded by fog or even just walking to school in the morning against the snow and biting wind. Everything here needs that extra bit of effort that extra bit of perseverance, patience, energy. This is even more so for those that maintain the city; the construction workers the labourers. Now the constant darkness adds a new element of maintenance an element of effort. For the past month I have watched the new student housing be built. Day by day, in all-weather be it snow, snow or snow the workers go on and now it’s beginning to look more and more like an actual building, a building that will one day house students who will spend time out in the field, with the wind the freezing rain and the bears.
Those that come to Svalbard become close, you’re never really alone. Going out on hikes sharing a kitchen with several others even walking to school your likely to bump into someone. We are similar in the way that everyone enjoys outdoor activities, enjoys what they study but we are similar in another way; the common struggle. Whether its cold hands tired feet or a report deadline (of which I now have many) you can guarantee you’re not alone and what better way to celebrate this camaraderie than to all pitch in and share a meal in the fashion previously described.
With this I would add to the opening passage ... “and that this is shared with his comrades that have shared in the toil.”