I'm treading on new territory being in Pituffik, Greenland (Thule Air Base)
in September. I've been here in the dark (January) and in the light (May-June),
in the spring half-light of April, and now in the autumn half-dark. The day
length is shortening by about 14 minutes a day right now, a change big enough
to notice each day when I wake. So the phrase we first heard on a September
morning in Sondrestrom, Greenland 16 years ago, "Winter is coming!" is, on a
daily basis, more and more relevant.
I arrived here almost a week ago, arriving to warm and sunny skies, the
temperatures, though comfortable by Thule standards, were still 40 F degrees
colder than our 6 am departure temperature (in Virginia) of 80 F. I, like
the people stationed and working here, reveled in the Indian Summer 40's!
Seemingly, with the shortening days, came the more wintry conditions. The
past three days have been noticeably colder, the past two days have had
the charm of wind chill added to the equation. Yesterday and today will be listed
in my book as 30/30 days: temperatures in the 30's, winds in the 30's, a typical
Eastern Shore of Virginia mid-winter's day!
Remember, my descriptions of "cold" are nothing for Greenland. A 40/40 day
here might describe a winter's day when the temperature is minus 40 with winds
in excess of 40 knots! Although my little 12' by 12' building, held down to the
earth by thousands of pounds of concrete and steel cables, shudders from time
to time, it's still just a summer breeze.
In Antarctica there is a saying, too; "The first time you come here, it's
for the adventure, the second time it's for the money, the third time, it's
because you've realized that you don't fit in anywhere else." In any harsh
environment, there is truth to the third point. You are where you are either
because you have to be there or because you don't want to be anywhere else.
My friends here in Thule tell me of the love-of-place that they have. They
have found the beauty here , they have found their place, and belong here
as much as anywhere else. The weather has become just something to talk
about. The "place" is in their hearts.
I have come to know that sixteen years ago, on my first visit to Greenland,
a seed of love was sown in me.
Updated: 10:59 AM GMT on September 13, 2007
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