WHEN THE ICE MELTS

IN NUNAVUT

THE VIEW FROM HERE, ABOVE THE TREE LINE

©Maggie Padlewska

  There's no doubt that the Arctic conjures up images of icebergs, whiplashing blizzards, and roaming polars bears that disappear into a blinding landscape covered by that thick layer of ice and snow...but yes dear friends, there are four (each so verrrry breathtaking!) seasons here too!

I knew that the melt would come eventually and awaited its arrival - dare I say, impatiently! I was overwhelmingly eager to see what lay beneath that unforgiving white blanket of snow that thrust me into my newly-adopted northern reality. I began to count months, then weeks, and eventually days until the land would begin to reveal itself...a moment that I now know, that no matter how challenging at times, is most certainly worth waiting for!

My excitement grew more intense with the slightest crack in the ice and the gentle sound of trickling water as it began to weave its way through the rounded rocks and stones of the tundra. I gawked at the rolling hills and Nunavut's endless horizon...but I also got down on the ground (taking it all in at times with my head resting on a soft cushion of lichens and moss), to explore this magical landscape - much of which thrives no taller than the height of a pencil. 

 

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

     As I marvelled at the flora that began to flourish, to transform a barren frozen land into an explosive medley of colours, my amazement became increasingly vocal. "So I saw the tiniest of flowers! With the most intricate details and vibrant colours!!!" I would express like a giddy 12 year old to whoever happen to be near (most nodding politely given they had, indeed, seen it all before). Fascinated with what I was watching unfold for the very first time, I began to ask questions - many questions. It is then that a friend loaned me her book (titled "Barenlands Lands: Snowy Plants of the Canadian Arctic" by Page Burt); a wonderful little field guide that further fueled my intrigue, curiosity and drive to explore every-single-intricate details of this magically lush low lying plant world...

 

Here, for you, are some of the many images (yes, there are mannny) that I took from my mostly horizontal point of view. I hope you'll savour this view of Arctic region as much as I do...

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

©Maggie Padlewska

Iqaluit resident, Qujjuk & the blackberries he picked earlier today. (August 22, 2017) 

There is, of course, much more to the northern environment than its beauty...this land, and its countless lifeforms, play a crucial role in the lives and traditional survival of the Inuit community. Much of the land and what it produces has helped sustain life up here for centuries. From medicines to edible (blackberries, crowberries, etc.) and practical (my favourite: Arctic Cotton) plants, this land has a lot to offer.

 

I feel privileged and lucky to have been here, to have witnessed the land blossom and sprout to life, to explore the intricate relationships between the various types of lichens, low lying shrubs, grassses and flowers...and of course, to have had the honour of indulging in the land's mouthwatering abundance of berries!

TO READ MORE ABOUT THE IQALUIT DIET 

(AND YES, IT'S TRUE...THERE ARE DEFINITELY NO TREES UP HERE)

©Maggie Padlewska