Terminus: Constance Glacier by Taylor Johnson

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(word & music by Taylor Johnson)

When we first met, I gave you all my rubble
Turned it into artwork, made the mountains crumble
The bedrock couldn’t stop us, and we carved a place into the dirt
Like we had all the time on Earth

A path with no terminus, the thought of thaw seemed blasphemous
Our past formed a prologue to an age named after us
Ages turned to epochs, periods seemed possible for all its worth
Cause we held all the time on Earth

Cordilleran chemistry, blossoming morphology
Etched out into a valley bound for the sea
Full confidence in our advance
Together we’d accumulate and overcome all that could ablate

Patience is a virtue when there’s no future to lose
Patience is a virtue when you’re future-proof

But something changed so fast
Something else more violent than us
Full retreat and full collapse
Not since Pangea broke up

And in a blink it seemed that rubble’s right in front of me
Blocking out our scenery
Receding and rewinding, leaving scars and bleeding sores
And I just can’t hear your voice anymore

And now you’re gone, obscured by an arret
And for the first time I’m counting all the days left
And I feel the weight of time, like it was never mine and it hurts
Cause there’s no time on Earth

Patience is a virtue when you’re future-proof
Patience is a virtue when there’s no future to lose
Patience is a virtue but there’s no future to lose

Artist's Statement

"The name says it all: patience is a factor of time, and time is everything until it runs out. Geology and geological processes run on time, often great expanses of time, until they don't. Calamity ensues. Glaciers themselves are extremely rapid agents of change relative to Earth's history; however, that's nothing compared to the effects of climate change as a result of humanity. We are the agents of chaos. It's these notions that form the basis of this audio piece: one force being supplanted by another more dangerous force, where time (and patience) become scarce commodities in the advent of a terminus. In an effort to conceptualize and, ironically, humanize this idea, I resorted to fashioning an acoustic-based duet from the perspective of two star-crossed alpine glaciers. Over the course of this piece, these glacial protagonists form over geologic time to physically join each other as a force that dominates and shapes the world around them. Eventually, they encounter a 'force majeure' (humanity and its imposed climate change) and must recede until they are once again physically separated and unknowing of each other’s fate; only the listener will understand that they are both, in time, gone. The traditional acoustic instrumentation and duet vocals seemed like the logical musical base for conveying this truly heartbreaking narrative; however, I also employed various elements of noise, horns, and electronic flourishes via guitars that build a kind of dissonance as the story progresses toward conflict. All music was recorded using physical instruments and tracked directly into the audio software; no digital effects or MIDI instrumentation were employed in this piece. In the mix, I make use of the stereo channels for storytelling purposes, especially concerning the vocals, in an effort to audibly present the confluence, togetherness, discord, and eventual separation of the characters; therefore, this piece is best enjoyed with headphones or a proper stereo output system. My ultimate hope is that the listener will feel at least a sense of melancholy and loss with 'Patience', and that it provides a piece of soundtrack representative and worthy of the Terminus project as a whole." -Taylor Johnson
a decorative line divider with curled ends and a snowflake at the center.

Meet the artists: Taylor Johnson and Julie Lumsden

Taylor Johnson is an American-Canadian multimedia producer with a keen passion for science, natural history, and conservation. With a background in Geology and Environmental Studies from Whitman College, Taylor earned an MFA from the premier program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University. Since then, Taylor has worked on a wide range of projects and mediums, ranging from short films and series for the National Science Foundation and Nat Geo Wild, to feature-length docs and slow TV for Compass Light Productions and CuriosityStream, as well as podcasts for the Society for Neuroscience. His work has been screened at film festivals world-wide. In addition, Taylor is an alumnus of the prestigious Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) program. Throughout his work, Taylor tends to favor a quirky and humorous approach, but he’s certainly serious about making information accessible and enjoyable to all.

Julie Lumsden is a proud member of the Manitoba Metis Federation, with Scottish and German settler ancestry. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice Performance from the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music. She recently completed her 4th season at The Shaw Festival, most notably as Bella in “Gaslight”, being heralded as “luminous” (Globe & Mail) and “particularly compelling” (New York Times) “tour de force performance” (Broadway World). She has also performed on such stages as: RMTC, PTE, MTYP, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Cercle Moliere, Magnus Theatre, and Neptune Theatre. She is a Juno Award Nominee for her work with Against the Grain/The Banff Centre’s MESSIAH/COMPLEX.

You can see more from Taylor at his website here, and you can see more from Julie at her website here.

Two photos of the same glacier, labeled 1964 and 2010, show slight retreat at the foot of the glacier where it feeds a lake.

More about Constance Glacier

Reference arrows show slight terminus retreat, and though lingering snow covers the upper portions, some thinning is evident on this steep, north-facing glacier. Many glaciers like the Constance on the dry northeast side of the Olympic Mountains are now changing more slowly. This is because they are already small remnant glaciers existing in steep, narrow and shadowed drainages where snow deposits but is sheltered from spring and summer radiation. Constance Glacier's waters join the Quilcene River drainage.

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Last updated: May 1, 2023

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