Pagophagia is a compulsive craving for ice. While medical reports link the craving and consumption of ice to anemia, I hadn't heard of this term until I began reading In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. The prologue profiles George De Long, a Naval Academy graduate who journeys to the arctic in search of a lost vessel and its crew, only to return home to his wife and daughter and immediately sign up for another arctic expedition. The ice had gotten into his veins, and the joke is that he's stricken with pagophagia.
While I've certainly not had an adventure like the kind De Long lived through in the late 1800s, I can understand the "Arctic Fever" that swept up the Navy man and many American news-readers of the era.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may recall this post from January and recognized that I have a certain affinity for arctic tales. I love the icy settings of horror stories like The Thing, or The Terror by Dan Simmons, but I really appreciate true-story accounts of icy adventure like what Sides writes about in his latest. I guess I have a bit of pagophagia myself.
In 2011, my wife and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary by taking an Alaskan cruise. Certainly a more reasonable and comfortable vacation than a full-scale arctic expedition, and yet it made me want more. The expanse of wilderness and the sheer enormity of nature was humbling and eye-opening. Simply amazing. I want to spend more time in that land and have a longer, fuller, richer exploration of that state. I may never get to the arctic, but I absolutely must return to Alaska.
Reading Sides' novel has really made me nostalgic of our previous vacation, so I thought I'd share some photos. And if you want to see the entire set, you can head over to my Flickr page.