Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blue ice of Greenland

The great thing about seasickness is that once it's over, it's over.

Two hours ago I was clutching my stomach and soul as we forged through 50 mph winds. My plan for the rest of the day: sleep, with occasional dashes to the nearest loo.

Then we moved into a fjord, and all was calm. And I found myself bounding down the steps to the Polar Cirkel boat for a visit to the front of the Evighedsfjorden glacier.

You might think that all glaciers -- and all ice -- look alike, but they're as different as children in the same family. Unlike the white bergs that have been smoothed by the sea of Ilulissat's icefjord, this one is a rugged mass of shards splintering into the salty, frigid bath.

From the ship we can see the top of the glacier, measuring about 170 meters between two peaks of 900 meters and 1200 meters. From the Polar Cirkel boat we see a face of about 70 meters. Ice against black rock, ice filtering into the sea. We can hear our launch crunch over it as we move ever closer to the front.

Some of the ice is white, which means it contains bubbles. Some is a blue as a schmaltzy curacao cocktail or an aquamarine stone, blue and brilliant and completely without bubbles. Most of this, we are told, has probably been compacted by the weight of centuries.

A chunk of the blue spills into the sea. A flock of birds whirls overhead, dashing for the krill and other sealife that will be disturbed and become easy prey.

Our boat moves off quickly, to avoid the wave that will form and flow outward.

Cool as ice.

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