Friday, 20 June 2014

The Colours of Summer

Emma Micalizzi

The days that have been three days away in the forecast since before we got here have finally arrived, and with them blue skies and temperatures above ten degrees.  It is a very welcome intermission after a long period of gray days with temperatures just above zero and rain, and before what is forecasted to be another week straight of rain.  I also figure that these couple days are among the nicest that we’ll have, as the mosquitoes have also appreciated the warmer weather.  They were out for the first time yesterday, but they must be drowsy from the long winter as they have landed on me without biting.  That being said, I’m sure it won’t be long until their blood-thirst kicks in.  
Some of the flowers we have passed walking between sites:  (top row) arctic poppy (Papaver sp.), alpine milk-vetch (Astragalus alpinus), red-tipped lousewort (Pedicularis flammea), (bottom row) Arnica (Arnica angustifolia), arctic thrift (Armeria scabra), and Labrador tea (Rhododendron lapponicum).
The (slowly) thawing Frobisher Bay.
The Sylvia Grinnell River flowing.  The white is not snow, but icebergs that have broken off and floated down from upstream.

The ice is starting to melt here.  Walking along the bay, you can smell the ocean and there is a continual thunder from the melting and collapsing of mountains of icebergs that have piled up over the winter.  Along the Sylvia Grinnell River, many large pieces of ice from upstream have washed down to an iceberg traffic jam at the mouth of the river.  There are very large icebergs that have been pushed tens of meters up from the shore.  The composition of these icebergs looks like many long, narrow shards glued together, and there is the occasional sound of breaking glass as the ice shatters apart.  The tundra is coming back to life at quite a pace as well; it was really noticeable this week.  Already we’ve seen many of our plants come into flower, as well as a colourful greeting on paths from flowers that we hadn’t expected to see for a while, such as poppies (Papaver sp.) and arctic bladder campions (Silene involucrata).  Zoe has sent word saying that flowers such as mountain avens (Dryas integrifolia) are also out at Lake Hazen.  It seems here that as each early bloomer finishes flowering, several more new species come into flower, and our walks between sites are getting more full of life every day.

Unfortunately in Iqaluit, the dump is still burning and the smoke can really fill some of the valleys where we work.  It truly puts a damper on the mood of enjoying the sun, fresh air, and flowers when your lungs are filling with burning plastics and chemicals.  We have borrowed some masks that were kindly lent to us, but I resent when I need to wear what’s essentially a gas mask to spend time outside (but it’s certainly better than without the mask!).  Fortunately the wind is in our favour sometimes, and other times we can pass over a ridge to duck out of the smoke.
An example of some of the interesting structures of the icebergs along the Sylvia Grinnell River.
Like the plants, Iqaluit appears to be coming alive with the warmer weather.  The summer solstice is this weekend, Alianait Arts Festival is next weekend, and then there’s Canada Day, followed by Nunavut Day.  This all means that there’s going to be lots going on in the next few weeks and I’m looking forward to getting to experience some of the local culture.  Every day, the tundra gets more alive and I think my life in Iqaluit is only going to get more colourful as the summer progresses.

1 comment:

  1. What are some of your favourite red flowers?