The Sun is a Compass – a book review

For a Phd ornithologist, and his house-builder boyfriend, what would be the motivation to take on a 4000 mile journey across the Alaska and Arctic, all alone, powered only by their bodies? Through snow, mountains, and rivers?

What would they need to carry? How much can they carry?

The baggage they carry, the one on their backs, and the one in their heads, wouldn’t weigh them down? Wouldn’t the baggage make the journey a little more painful, a little more challenging, a little more prone to failure?

Are there wild animals on the path? Grizzlies? A swarm of mosquitoes so thick (and bites so itchy!), it can block out the sky, and suck dry a caribou?

For a large part of the journey, they would be miles away from the nearest humans…how will they seek help?

The Sun is a Compass is a journey of self-discovery that Caroline and Pat undertook before getting serious about their jobs, and each other. It’s a culmination of a dream they saw together a decade earlier.

Since the book is written by the scientific-minded Caroline, the book is all facts about birds and animals and terrain, and beautiful descriptions of the days, events and journeys. As if you are undertaking the journey yourself. The philosophical aspects come in the last few pages of the book (and much appreciated)…and the photos at the back are a delight…

In these days of lock down, this books opens up vast vistas of wilderness to the reader. The spirit of adventure is kindled again, and the reader ends up hoping for this Covid tempest to end so he can undertake such an epic journey himself…where he can hear himself amidst the silence of the snowy vastness, and realize the baggage he is carrying on him, and inside of him!

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