We were zipping across Sermilik Fjord on an impossibly blue-sky day. I had convinced myself that it was going to rain every day that I was in Greenland, so this weather was an unexpected treat. Other than being fearful of less-than-desirable weather, I hadn’t set too many expectations of what Greenland was supposed to be like. That big jagged island at the very top of the world map seemed like one of those mythical places that you hear of, but don’t go to. Yet here I was with an open mind to this very wide-open space.
Much of Greenland pleased me–the lack of trees, the craggy peaks, the “alpine” lakes that were less than 100 feet above sea level, the miles of undeveloped coastline. But to me, nothing in Greenland was as delightful as the icebergs. In early June, a piece of ice half the size of Manhattan broke off the Helheim Glacier, dumping 5-8 billion tons of ice into the sea. That left the fjords near our Base Camp littered with giant chunks of ice.
I could have watched the ice all day. The bergs wildly unpredictable structure coupled with their uncanny ability to look like something I’d seen before was a source of constant amusement. There went a hippo. Next a chameleon. What would we see next? A stegosaurus? A swan? The Sydney Opera House? Every iceberg provided an opportunity for creative interpretation.
At home, my daughter and I lie on our backs in the grass and stare up at the sky, finding pictures in the clouds. In Greenland, I could look straight out to play that same game. Both icebergs and clouds consist of water but in very different forms and places. But on this day, the two were intertwined—sparkling reflections on a calm sea. In a land so big, I couldn’t tell if the ice touched the sky or the clouds touched the sea. Back home now, that is what Greenland looks like to me.
By Anne Avellana, Adventure Director at Natural Habitat Adventures. All photos © Eric Rock.