The winter wonderland that was the village a few weeks before was fast becoming a mess as snow turned to slush. The seasons change rapidly in the north. The time difference between sunset on arrival to sunset at our departure a month later was two hours, three if you count the man-made daylight savings. The melting snow ran off the mountain in rapid steady streams; small dams built by local children overflowed and washed away within minutes. There was a new energy in the village. The arrival of Snow Buntings added to the bird population; the ever-present Ravens and Eagles had new company in the sky.
In a village of 350 inhabitants, the sudden appearance of strangers was puzzling. On closer inspection, they were the same folk but in a state of undress as the temperature rose. The specialised arctic clothing I was accustomed to seeing them in was replaced with slimmer fitting outfits; the village lost weight overnight.
After weeks of layered clothing, my body craved freedom. Gearing up was an average 10-minute ordeal each time I stepped out the front door. When the temperature reached an acceptable 1’C, I peeled down to baggies and a t-shirt and went outside for my first beer under a blue Greenland sky. I pushed it for an hour before making a careful dash for the heated cabin interior. Flip flops in beach sand aren’t pleasant, flip flops in snow is masochistic.
The changing season meant the whale hunt was about to start; midnight 1 April. I wanted to be far away when dead whales started to pile up on the village slipway. The opening season was taken seriously; I noticed an increase of shouldered hunting rifles on the village streets during the last days of March.
On the evening before our departure, a Narwhal was killed and butchered at sea. A boatload of whale meat was brought into the village. Personally, any dead whale is a tragedy, but the thought of a dead Narwhal, the magical unicorn whale, was downright depressing.
We left the village the following day. Walking on the iced main road, stepping over trails of frozen blood, we made our way to the jetty for our pick up and the voyage back down south.
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