In the early hours of a November dawn, Dr. Leslie Field found herself motoring a snowmobile some 300 miles above the Arctic Circle, hauling straight toward the sunrise in below-zero temperatures. She was nursing a cold, and had expected to have a hard time with this trip from her home in California to one of the coldest and farthest corners in the country, during winter — when there are only 2.5 hours of sunlight per day.
“Suddenly there’s this arc of a rainbow that I’m driving right into,” she said. At that time of year, the sun seems to rise and set almost infinitely slowly in Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, painting the sky with perpetual twilight colors of electric blue and rosy pink. As the sun crested the horizon, it put on a stunning celestial light show. Instead of darkness and gloom, she saw incredible beauty. And with all that beauty, “I realized I was doing the most important thing I could be doing for the planet.”