For all the harm man does, for all our arrogance, one still has to admire the ingenuity, adaptability and dogged determination which have enabled us to inhabit most parts of the terrestial globe. We can be found from the shimmering heat of the Gobi Desert to the frozen wastes of the arctic tundra.
I was musing on this while driving slowly along a narrow forest road, enjoying the sunrise and watching the natural world wake up. I slowed down a little more to watch, rapt, as four geese laboured across the rose quartz dawn. I thought ‘those geese might have come all the way from Canada’.
As I trundled along in this state of reverie I tried to imagine what it would be like to live out on the permafrost in the high latitudes. I imagined trudging out on to the ice and laboriously hacking-out a hole through which I could dangle a fishing line. I imagined sitting there, in the endless arctic twilight, for hours maybe, pulling my nacaq around my ears to shield them from the icy blast, my whole being focused on that hole in the ice, waiting for a tug on the line that told me my dinner was ready for collection . . .
I had come to a T-junction and signalled to turn left. It was then that I noticed the car that must have been following slowly behind me for the last two or three miles on the narrow forest road. It pulled up alongside me and the passenger-side window glided down. The driver looked across at me with a forthright, almost stern expression.
“Ice hole!” he said with passion. I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. I was startled by this apparent synchronicity; had he been thinking the same thoughts as I as he trundled along behind me through the forest? I nodded at him thoughtfully, silently acknowledging a kindred spirit, and continued on my way while he gunned his motor and roared off in the opposite direction.
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