While I was in Zackenbert this summer I was asked to write a letter with my experiences in the station. I recently stumbled upon this letter and decided to make a post out of it :) The only thing I added were the hyper-links (Don’t have one for the fox ):
Joel Andres Granados-Moreno
27 Aug 2011
The past week has been an escape from the routine of the University. One can
even call it a vacation :). Don’t get me wrong; it has been full of long days
and hard work. But there are also moments spent staring at nature which are
characteristic of a vacation. Not sure exactly how to communicate this duality
between hard work and rest that I feel here at Zackenberg but I’ll try my best
One thing that stood out from the first day at Greenland was my encounter with
the infamous Salix Arctica. I had been working with this flower for 2 years and
had never really seen it in person. Before arriving to Zackenberg we made a
pit-stop to pick up some soldiers that were fixing up a hut. And there was where
I saw it. It was bigger than I had expected but the texture was a bit more
rough than I had imagined. The female is unlike any flower I know. To me, the
horn-like capsules and their color give it a sort of dignity and uniqueness.
Nobody seemed too excited about it, they were more worried about how to get 100
kilograms of stuff into the plane. I did not waste any time and got on my knees
and took as many pictures as possible while drawing some curious stares from
the pilots and soldiers. The Salix Arctica is an important part of my PhD
project but somehow, when I arrived to Greenland, I stopped thinking of it in
that way only.
After having survived a semi-confusing first couple of days, I started off my
third day with a trip to my newly constructed Salix Arctica plots. It consists
in setting up some special markers at each corner of the plot and taking a
bunch of pictures. When I arrived, I set everything down on a nearby rock and
as I began, I had a curious visitor. At the beginning I was not aware of its
presence. But when I saw something move off the corner of my eye, I new I was
not alone. It was a fox that was trotting down a little hill about 50 meters
from were I stood totally unconcerned with my person. It seemed like he was on
his daily territory marking duties because he peed everywhere. He was even so
kind as to claim the rifle I was carrying with a good dose of urine. When I saw
him, I tried to fetch my camera. But when I finally had it in my hands, the fox
had trotted away.
I’m not sure what my plot’s effects are on the animals but some days after the
fox encounter, I wad another surprise when I went out into the field. That day I
had borrowed some binoculars from bird watching station in the living room.
Before getting to the place where my plots were, I noticed a couple of rocks
that were not previously there. I quickly took out the binoculars and looked to
see what the strange rocks were. To my surprise, there were two Musk Oxen
basking in the morning sun. Since I wanted to take a picture of them, I
slowly went closer and took a picture on every step that I took. When I was
about 200 meters from them they started staring at me and looked a bit nervous.
I slowly took a couple of steps more and they both stood up at the same time and
kept staring at me. I stood still for a while thinking, they would feel
comfortable with my presence. After about a minute of staring at each other I
took a step forward and looked down to take my camera. When I returned my gaze,
I noticed that they were running for the hills and in a matter of seconds where
hundreds of meters from where I was. I was left with a couple of semi-decent
pictures and a sense of relief that they ran away instead of towards me :).
It’s strange to write about these three experiences because they seem to fit
more in a vacation weekly letter than in a work travel one.