New book: North to Nunavut: An Arctic Love Affair, by Fred ’58 and Joyce Sparling (Chapel Hill Press)
The authors: A physician, scientist, and administrator, Fred Sparling had retired and then went back to work part-time. Later he returned to work full-time, rejuvenated by traveling through the Arctic with his wife — they share the story of their 10-year travels in the Eastern Canadian Arctic in their late 60s and early 70s in their new memoir. Sparling is a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina. Joyce Sparling is a retired associate professor in the Department of Allied Health at the University of North Carolina.
The book: Fred Sparling wandered into a gallery in Toronto one September day in 2000 and fell in love with Inuit art – specifically a carving of a bear. That encounter led to an adventure for the couple in which they came to explore the Inuit people, their art, and their land. This memoir follows them as they traveled by canoe, paddling the rivers of the central Barren Grounds, and lived with Inuit families in their tundra camps. The Sparlings saw caribou, white wolves, seals, walrus, and polar bears up close and witnessed the threats to the ecosystem due to global warming and mining. “It is possible for old couples to launch new adventures that enrich marriage and life, working together,” said Fred Sparling. “There is nothing like being in a huge wilderness to bring out the buried spiritual inner self.”
From the book: “We became friends with Inuit families, moving from superficial to deeper understanding, from acquaintance to personal relationships. … The continuous thread throughout these travels is our ever-growing appreciation of the Inuit. They have lived in the Arctic for a long time and have been shaped by the cold, the beauty, and the difficulties of living in extreme conditions. The Inuit have much to teach.”