Summer Solstice

by: Sebastian Copeland

June 21, 2010 8:05pm

This is the majestic view I have from my window on this, the longest day of the year

Qaanaaq – Today was the longest day of the year. Up here, since the sun has not set for many weeks, this means that the sun reaches its highest rotational zenith; if there were a night, it would have been the shortest. And given the splendid sunny weather we have had all day, this really did feel like a long day!
Summer solstice coincides, not by accident, with Greenland’s national day. It is a national holiday marked by local community celebrations. In Qaanaaq, the whole village gathers for some recitations, singing and food for everyone.
Qaanaaq is a town of six hundred people (a correction from my earlier description: there are approximately two hundred dwellings here, and not fifty); all of them came out to celebrate. Some wore the traditional seal or bear skin outfits–just the pants or jacket: given the 10C degrees, they might have suffocated had they worn the entire outfit. The food served was raw whale; I took a pass, having tried it before… but they seemed to enjoy it.
I spoke with a few of them and discussed how early thaws and a changing climate is affecting Inuit culture. Life is tough for an Inuit to whom hunting and fishing on the ice is virtually the only means of survival. With an early thaw, their very existence is endangered. It isn’t just the bears…
An ice fog shrouded the sea ice on and off all day, but never went past the beach. Only the peaks of the tallest icebergs were visible above the white sheet, and I sat on a rock for an hour contemplating the extraordinary views. It was silent and peaceful; a welcomed calm to follow the intense focus of the last forty days. And a great way to rest my sore legs! The fog eventually cleared revealing some new large cracks in the bay, and considerably more water by the shore than two days ago. I am relieved to have ventured when I did–our first night here–in spite of the fatigue and hesitation I felt then. The weather has not been like then again since, in the way that I like to shoot ice: overcast. And given the accelerated melt, it is unlikely that I could get out now. I got it by a narrow margin, and the photo result– arresting! As they say: why plan for tomorrow what you can do today… READ MORE on Sebastian’s BLOG…

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