Why I don’t wish to get excited about icebergs
I hope all those bloody icebergs are melted time this. It’s early July as I scribble and Dearest Duck is employing her feminine wiles — namely, baking batches of chocolate chip cookies — tempting me to hie-deeho off to a different bay to ogle icebergs.
“No, my Duck,” say I. “It’s a sunny day, why bring clouds?”
“Ah, come on, Harry,” says Dearest Duck, pulling a loaded cookie sheet from the oven. “I’ll pack a lunch. We’ll find a scenic headland, have a picnic and watch the icebergs drift south.”
“My Duck,” say I, “Most things I’d do for you even without a cookie bribe, but not this. Nay, not this, despite the heated cockles of my heart.”
“Fine then,” she says, and huffs across the kitchen whence soon comes the sound of cookies tumbling into the trash.
I know, I know. How can one old curmudgeon be so miserable, not to take his Dearest on an excursion to some cliff or crag to watch in wonder as glacier calves float south to fated doom?
Easy. Icebergs do not attract me. In fact, they repel me, so much that I allow my Duck to chuck my cookies.
Sundry tourists, both homegrown and foreign, crowd lookout points on our eastern coast to “ooh” and “ahh” at the splendour of massive chunks of ice — some the size of … oh, I don’t know, cathedrals or something — endangering saltwater craft.
Everyone totes a device, be it pocket camera, tripod camera, iPad, iPhone, video this or that capable of snapping pictures or recording the passing of the icy behemoths from Greenland.
Like cloud gazers who find ponies in the sky, those who stare at icebergs fancy the sea and sun have carved fishy shapes into the eroding bergs.
And quick as Granny caught the weasel, images are uploaded to iClouds and before some crooked old grump can blurt an old-fashioned saying such as “Jack Robinson,” Facebook pages are clogged with icebergs thick as the Arctic floes.
“Harry.” Dearest Duck has returned to chastise me, a lingering aroma of cookies on her apron. “Folks who read that, if they haven’t already thrown the pages down, will think you’re Oscar the Grouch.” “Why?” say I. “I wonder?” says Dearest Duck. “Allow me to reiterate, my Duck.” By its very nature, ice is cold. Out here in the North Atlantic, on the broken snout of North America, warm summer days are scarce as chickens’ choppers. Seldom do we denizens of this chilly isle have opportunity to wallow in waves of solar heat.
Why then, should we cheer the mountainous ice that hunches its shoulders against the node-east wind, further cooling an already chilly wind before it blows ashore and like Emily Dickinson’s terrifying snake in the grass leaves us feeling “zero at the bone”? “Harry, you’re just a grump.” “Also, my Duck, as you’ve often suggested, I prob’ly still have entrenched trauma regarding ice remaining from the winter my family lived in the woods.”
“Saviour, spare us,” says Dearest Duck leaving, trailing the waning smell of cast-off cookies.
Actually, we didn’t live in the woods. Not quite. We lived in a shack on a wooded point two miles across the Arm from our regular place of abode. A mere two miles, but in the days shortly before Sputnik I orbited Earth, sometimes an insurmountable distance … especially if the Arctic ice, shuffed by the friggin’ nodeeast wind, blew in and stogged the Arm.
The spring of the winter we lived on the point, the ice packed in early, blocking every harbour, cove and arm, effectively marooning us with our backs to a hinterland of trackless forest.
Food supplies ran low and couldn’t be replenished because the ice jamming the Arm from shore to shore was too rotten to travel on.
Food was rationed. The baby needed milk so all hands relinquished their Carnation and swallowed barky, switchel tea. The ice refused to budge. The last few spuds grew stalky and spongy. The ice refused to budge. The bottom of the flour was bare. The ice refused to budge. We starved to death. Obviously we didn’t starve to death, but because — p’raps — of that winter on the point, I’ve never played tourist to any form of ice.
“Ah, poor Harry,” surely is Dearest Duck’s commiseration. Again, I’ve lied. In some forms ice is dandy. In vodka and tonic, or used to cool a scalding cup of herbal tea, eh b’ys?
Thank you for reading.
Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, Placentia Bay, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at email@example.com