A Speck of Sunlight Is a Town’s Annual Alarm Clock


陽光是小鎮鬧鐘 一年一鬧


Longyearbyen, Norway, which calls itself the world’s northernmost town, is in total darkness from mid-November through January.

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: March 3, 2008



LONGYEARBYEN, Norway – Early this month, this remote Arctic settlement – which calls itself as the northernmost town in the world – was buzzing with excitement and expectation.
位於北極區的挪威偏遠新拓居地隆伊爾拜恩鎮號稱舉世最北的小鎮。這個月初,鎮內洋溢一股興奮與期待的氣氛。


Longyearbyen is about 600 miles from the North Pole.

The 2,000 inhabitants of Longyearbyen were eagerly awaiting a visitor, a guest to warm the air and make the town’s colors come alive; the white of the snow; the deep blue of the water; the red, yellow and green of the wooden homes, banks, restaurants, schools and the post office.
隆鎮的兩千鎮民熱切期待一名訪客;這個貴客使空氣頓時暖和,並使鎮內的色調鮮活起來:雪的白,海水的湛藍,木屋、銀行、餐館、學校與郵局的紅、黃、綠。


On March 8, the sun rose again in Longyearbyen, on an island 965 kilometers from the North Pole, for the first time since October. While most of the world takes light and shadows for granted, for residents here, after months of perpetual darkness, the return of sunlight is a very big event.
3月8日這一天,太陽再度在距離北極965公里的隆鎮升起;這是去年10月以來,太陽首次在這裡露臉。全球多數地方的人將光、影視為理所當然,對隆鎮的居民而言,在歷經漫漫數月的永夜後,太陽光再度出現可是件很大的事。


Now, the wheels are turning again. Inger Marie Hegvik, who has worked at the airport for 15 years, said that she sleeps two to three hours more in the dark months, and that her energy has rose dramatically in the days leading up to March 8.
如今,輪子已經再度轉動。已在機場工作15年的英吉兒‧瑪麗‧赫格維克表示,每逢永夜的日子,她每天要多睡二、三小時,在3月8日來臨前的一段日子裡,她的精神也好了許多。


“It is excellent,” she said, shopping for wine at the Coop, a local store. “Everything becomes easier.” To celebrate the sun’s arrival, her office has planned a party at a mountain cabin.
她在隆鎮的Coop商店買酒時說:「太棒了。一切變得輕鬆許多。」為慶祝太陽再度來臨,她的辦公室同仁打算在個山中小屋辦場派對。


Longyearbyen, originally a coal-mining town named for the American who founded it a century ago, is in total darkness from mid-November through January. During the first part of November and in February, when the sun is well below the horizon, daytime is only indirect light, a brief period of bluish twilight.
隆鎮原是個產煤的小鎮,以100年前造鎮的美國人之名命名,每年的11月中旬至翌年的元月是永夜。在11月初與2月,太陽位於地平線以下,白天只出現間接的光。這是藍色微光短暫出現的時節。


But now, each day is 20 minutes longer than the day before, and noticeably brighter. For the few weeks, residents will enjoy the diurnal alternation of light and darkness that is usual elsewhere.
然而現在今,每一天的白天都比前一天多出20分鐘,而且更亮。往後的幾個星期,當地居民將可享受其他地方屬於稀鬆平常的白天、黑夜每日交替。


By the end of March, the transformation will be complete: from April through September, there will be perpetual day in this town, now home to the university and a thriving tourist industry, as well as miners.
到3月底,轉變就會完成:4月至9月間,隆鎮出現永晝。隆鎮已有一所大學、欣欣向榮的觀光業及許多礦工。


The arrival of daylight is like a yearly rebirth, transforming lives and routines. While people do not actually hibernate, residents say they tire easily in the dark winter. Graduate students take naps at their desks.
白晝來臨有如一年一次的重生,並改變生命與日常節奏。民眾當然不會冬眠,然而當地居民表示,他們每逢永夜的冬季就比較容易疲倦;研究生常在課堂上打盹。


Suddenly, people will be driving their cars and scooters in light rather than darkness. They can see their kids when they run on ahead. They can hike up the glacier.
突然間,人們變成在白天而不是黑夜裡開車或騎速克達;自己的小孩一股勁往前跑時他們可以看得到,也可以在冰河中途步旅行。


The return of the sun also means the return of warmth to this frigid land, although that concept is relative. Summer temperatures average only 6 degrees Celsius. The record high is 18.
雖然是相對的概念,太陽去而復返也意味溫暖重回這塊嚴寒的土地。夏季的平均氣溫約僅攝氏6度,最高紀錄是18度。


But for many longtime inhabitants there is a sense of regret this time of year, as well. The perpetual night in Longyearbyen’s winter can be a time of contemplation. “Winter is so nice, you have all these things you want to do,” said Birgit Brekken, who moved here as a nurse 30 years ago and now works in a boutique that is getting its first trickle of tourists. “You write long letters instead of making a phone call. It’s a time when you can slow down and read.”
然而對許多久居隆鎮的居民而言,每年的這個時候也有另一種遺憾。隆鎮冬季的永夜也是沈思的時節。柏吉蒂‧布雷肯30年前以護士身分搬來隆鎮,目前在一家已經開始接待首批遊客的時裝精品店工作‧她說:「冬季真好,你可以做許多想做的事。你可以寫長信,而不是打電話。這是你可以放慢節奏,好好閱讀的時節。」


Now, she said, “the sun is coming back, and you have to get busy again.”
她說,如今,「太陽回來了;你又有得忙了」。


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