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Churchill: Day 7

A big Polar Bear Head

Blogpost #7: Al Bear

© 2011 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

What I like about Al Bear is the Whiteness of his hair,
And he doesn’t seem to care how close I stand.
He doesn’t rise to greet me –
‘Cause he knows that he can eat me –
I hope his dinner wasn’t made of Spam.
And I hope his breakfast isn’t who I am.

At Churchill Wild, en route to Arviat





Churchill: Day 6

On the rocky arctic shore

Blogpost #6: Morning Chorus

© 2011 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

Early, well before the sun when the arctic light is still shallow, and all is silhouette and shadow the birds (more birds than you have ever heard) begun to chorus, loud.  Flocks of Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Common Loons, an Eider Duck with her young, and a flight of Arctc Terns all carry on their conversations.  Sometimes, one alone calls out, startled perhaps or merely moved by the moment to shout about – who knows what? To this add in the beat of wings passing awesome close, and the lap of the incoming tide, and behind it all the quiet roar of the perpetual Boreal wind.

At Churchill Wild, en route to Arviat, N.E. Hudson Bay


Churchill: Day 5

A double rainbow over Hudson's Bay

A white Polar Bear appears Black

Blogpost #5: The Long Rise

© 2011 Mark Seth Lender

The storm of the night before is gone. There was a rainbow, huge even in the vast expanse of Hudson Bay and the rocky flats that go on for miles and miles.  It lasted for a long time, almost till the sun went down.  Now, only a thin edge of cloud which always lies in the east at sunup creases the horizon. It is not a perpetual dawn. Just long. A light that begins at half-past three and continues two hours more before the sun, orange and harsh and stripped-down, rises unceremoniously.  Unceremonious because despite all this waiting when it happens it happens all-at-once.  Stripped-down because it is the elemental of itself, without a touch of moisture in the air to clothe the nakedness.

All that is an hour away, this world still ruled by the dark of the inlet, the sea strangely brighter than what it reflects and studded with boulders, all black, like a mirror backed in mercury the polish here and there worn through.

In the shadow-lit landscape three polar bears come out of nowhere. They climb up and onto the point. Two together move further out. One stays, a cutout of bear just above where the razor of the sea makes a distant line.  He is a mountain, of darkness, the hump of shoulders and the bump of hips two worn peaks. And suddenly I am seen. And suddenly, he runs. This startles the other two and they run also and though it does not look fast because their improbable size destroys all scale, it is fast enough, and a good thing they’ve chosen to run the other way. Only memory reveals the whiteness of their hair.

And now the sun. And now the day. And that perpetual wind that warns of the cold that is to come.
Churchill Wild
Hudson Bay
5:31 AM 2011-8-10


Churchill: Day 4

Whales in Churchill

frolicking Beluga Whales in the artic ocean

Blogpost #4 Beluga

© 2011 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Resered

Finning and frolicking, and rolling on their sides to get a better view (flukes cutting the water like a blade) a clan of Beluga Whales comes through, so white against that southern arctic ocean blue. They are whiter than foam; whiter than pure white stone. Cavorting and blowing they dive – head breaking free, round as a melon, then the smooth curve of back sounding low.

They have come for the succor of warmer water, here where the Seal River pours out, like a thin blanket, light and sweet on the salt sea. It is the color of strong tea, brewed in the dark brown peat of the tundra where the rivulets, rain fed and melt fed, join to seek Hudson Bay. Rich in nutrient here in the mix things breed, tiny things; so many must be taken to nourish a white whale, even one (as whales go) so mignonne as these.

Such is the whale as seen from the air by human beings. But to know the whale, you must enter the elemental of the whale.  And I do.

For all their numbers, Belugas stern and starboard and off the pot bow, Hudson Bay is still vast. To find a whale you must not only skim the water like a whale, you must sing, like a whale: High. Melodious.  And in an instant you are surrounded!  Side by side, face to face, eye to eye  and me I am floating in every sense that word was ever given, and unwilling, to ever come out again to dry and lonely land.

At Churchill Wild
Hudson Bay

Churchill Day 3

Polar Bears eating

Polar Bears eating Beluga Whale

Polar Bear having eating a dead Beluga Whale

Blogpost #3: Bounty

© 2011 Mark Seth Lender

After the ice breaks, and the arctic night yields to longer and longer light, tundra on the edge of taiga turns green, and flowers.  Fields of crimson fireweed; cloud berries ripening red to soft, sweet, orange-pink; swarms of insects for the birds.  In the ice cold meltwater that floats in the fissures above the permafrost (hard as a rock only inches down) a frog blinks and sticks out his tongue. The Sik Sik wakes from his burrowing sleep and squirreling over a boulder stops and stands up tall to meet perpetual day.

For Polar Bears despite the fireweed as bright as purple lightning and all the life abounding, this is a time of fasting.  And the only feasting is on him, mosquitoes tormenting his soft nose and swollen eyes.  But sometimes a bear gets lucky, lucky that something else has met an untimely end.

In the night a young beluga, his skin not yet turned from light grey to white, was caught on the reef at the grief of breaking waves and low tide. To Polar Bears, bounty.  They gather round the remains in twos and threes and though the truce between them is temporal, for the sake of supper an uneasy peace abides.

At Churchilll Wild
Hudson Bay