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After Work: A Late Summer's Day In Iceberg City

…On we went at the engine’s slowest speed. Around one turn, there were ohhs. Around the next, there were ahhs.

While many these icebergs were the size of New York City blocks, the vastness of the sky and the landscape diminished the dimensions.

Then we saw it. It was a perfect ice arch, a bridge between two enormous parts of an iceberg…

Dona Gibbs sees wonders in the North.

For more of Dona’s wondrous words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

Pack ice is impressive but it’s small change compared to icebergs.

Pack ice, I recently learned on this “expedition” to Greenland is frozen seawater that forms near the coastline. “Near” is a relative term since on this trip along Greenland’s northeast coast it extends sixty-five miles out from the coastline.

Icebergs are another matter. They are born from glaciers, the fingers of which reach right down to the sea. They loom out of the water several hundred feet. Some are cathedral spires, some are polished, others pock marked, a few here and there are an incredible shade of blue, familiar to anyone lucky enough to receive a present from Tiffany, a famed Fifth Avenue New York jewelry store. They all are impressive.

The fog finally cleared. Just in time too. The forty-eight passengers on the good vessel Professor Molchanov were growing weary of Scrabble and had drunk down a case or four in the bar’s wine stores.

We set out for a Zodiac trip in what was billed as “Iceberg City” near the head of Hall Bredning. It seems that currents cause these giants to congregate here in incredible numbers. Some are said to be 250 feet high and almost a mile long. The water was so clear that we could see down to the depths, enough to prove that, yes, most of the berg, does reside beneath the water’s surface.

Everyone was fascinated. It was more fun than lying on your back in a meadow, imagining that clouds resembled bunnies or Mickey Mouse. Here the shapes took on more sophisticated meaning. Here, a Henry Moore. There, a work by some mad chainsaw genius.

On we went at the engine’s slowest speed. Around one turn, there were ohhs. Around the next, there were ahhs.

While many these icebergs were the size of New York City blocks, the vastness of the sky and the landscape diminished the dimensions.

Then we saw it. It was a perfect ice arch, a bridge between two enormous parts of an iceberg.

It was nature’s engineering feat, perfectly carved and glistening in the August sunlight.

“Let’s go under the bridge,” we urged the Zodiac captain.

Then crackling over the radio came the expedition leader’s answer to a similar request from another boat. “Tell me you’re joking!”

I thought he was being extra careful. I’d read a press release about a sister ship’s mishap with a calving glacier in Spitzsbergen. It had been an accident that had sent some to the hospital with injuries. Obviously, the company had alerted all personnel to be cautious, very cautious.

“Come on. If we run through very fast, we’ll be O.K.,” the official photographer laughed.

He was out for a good shot. Earlier, two of our number had formed a human tripod as he had balanced himself on the slippery pontoon of the dingy.

Later, he confessed he couldn’t swim.

Not that it would have mattered in 34 degrees. We would have had fifteen minutes to get him back into the boat until hypothermia did its nasty work.

Warnings like this are great incentives to stay in the boat with life vests on.

We laughed at the caution but moved past the beautiful bridge.

A low rumbling issued from the beautiful glistening arc. Then splintering. Then a whoosh of ice tumbling into the water.

What moments before we had thought was as benign as The Tunnel of Love at a local amusement park became a heart-skipping near miss.

There’s not a person on this trip that is faint of heart. And I would hazard a guess that all of us have made wills. Given house keys to neighbors. Left instructions to feed the cat. And pick up the mail. But with that one crash of ice and splash, I know that I’m not ready to leave this world quite yet.



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