Left standing in the hall. I wait a while in silence

July 24th, 1989

As agreed the previous day, I knock at the door early in the morning. Anne opens and greets me, then is gone; I will not see her again. Uummannak provides hospital, school, police and retail services to seven villages and during the summer, Anne works on the shuttle boat between them. Left standing in the hall. I wait a while in silence, then take a few tentative steps towards the living room and find bodies sleeping on the floor. What to do? I spot a small table where I can set my computer. I log on and begin to write a letter to a friend. Even the chime of the cuckoo clock fails to awaken anyone and I stay there, alone and somewhat embarrassed. If it was a day of celebration yesterday. The days ahead of fishing and hunting will be very exciting for me. (Full article)

Two hours after my arrival I am at sea

At last, 90 minutes later, Kristian walks by me on his way to the kitchen as though I’ve always lived here. He shouts: “Want a coffee?” Yes, I reply. He is back in the living room and looks out the window where the fog is as thick as the fog that seems to pervade in all the brains in this house. He grabs the phone to call Lars, his eldest son. The two men chat in their own language. Kristian hangs up, turns around and asks me: “Do you want to go fishing?” An hour later, I am at sea. And so began my stay with the Jensen family.

Six hundred years of Danish rules has not succeeded in changing the Inuit’s way of life nor imposed a fixed schedule on them. The word “time” has yet to be translated into the local language. “Why do Europeans put so much importance on the idea of time?” they still wonder.

Wishing to return and to know…

Quiet Reflection

The sun shines well into the night. We return from the seal hunt past midnight, children play in the streets, youths dance at the local hotel’s bar. Arriving home, the seal stew is on the table, ready for us. This seems to be the time to do what one wants.

We want to know.  Will all these years made any changes to this relation with time? Kristian was criticized when he became a fisherman, for Inuit are hunters. He wished to improve his life. What of today? Is seal still the children’s staple diet and source of winter clothing? And when the sea is as calm as a mirror, is the call to hunt seals so pressing that even the fishing plant should close? How is the fishing plant doing? What is their dependency on Denmark now? Do icebergs still float by their houses? What does it mean for us and for them this new melting of the Greenland ice? What does winter mean to them?

A day…

It’s an adventure, it’s awakening, it’s human