Wandering Thoughts

May 24, 2009

On Arrival

Filed under: Going Places — terence @ 7:32 pm
Tags: ,

…another writing course exercise

iceberg greenlandLike ghosts in a dream, icebergs appear in the mist below. Until then I’d been my own gritty fog. Three hours sleep in a Reykjavík dorm, the ache of an ended relationship. The torments I always have at the start of a trip: you’re unprepared, you’re over spent, why are you here? It vanishes with the icebergs. I see one and then realise that, like the night’s first star, it’s surrounded. Two. Three. Four. Hundreds! I press my nose to the small oblong window. I want to sing or at least shout “icebergs” to everyone on the plane. I keep it to myself but I’m bubbling like freshly opened soda. The sea below us is glassy-still, pale-blue and woven with filaments of cold, white cloud.

The icebergs gather, beautiful, but more important still, road markers: the point where Greenland stops being an idea in a book I’d read somewhere and starts to become a place where I’m actually going to stand.

The continent follows. We circle a giant Fjord and land next to a village of scattered, hopeful, red and blue houses. We stand on the airstrip, boots crunching on the gravel, breaths puffing in front of us. The view is giant-sized. Mountains, cut steep out of granite, tower and fall from the icecap. In the valleys glaciers, spines of splintered ice, inch to the sea.

Propellers stopped, it’s quiet. The sort of swallowing silence that turns shouts into whispers. Out front, the icebergs saunter, glowing like shattered stars. Water sculptured by water – curves and swoops, steeples and arches, coils and lenses of blue in white.

Next to me, two pretty Spanish day-trippers, wrapped in scarves and stylish coats, babble – every bit as excited as I am. “Est magico, est magico,” one of them keeps saying.

I have three weeks in Greenland, under the northern lights, north of the Arctic Circle. And then, after that, the frustration of never quite finding words to do justice to it all. In the end I will give up and just borrow from the Spanish lady. I tell you: Greenland is magic or, at least, as close to it as I have ever been.

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