A close encounter with an iceberg
Crystal stood on the north shore facing Baffin Bay and then further out the Labrador Sea. The wind whipped around her, choppy waves and white caps crested as far as the eye could see. The sky was a deep mottled gray; the clouds were so thick and heavy. Everyone knew that a nor’easter was on the way. The weather reports had been warning of the impending storm for days. The native islanders prepared for the storm with obvious urgency as they rushed around on their errands.
Amidst the hubbub Crystal stood on the rocky beach feeling the energy building, fascinated by the wind and waves, lost in the wonder of an approaching storm. Time seemed to stop as she watched and took in the beauty of the clouds, and the power of the brewing storm. Out on the horizon, she caught a glimpse of something. Crystal racked her brain trying to distinguish the form, but she couldn’t make it out. She was determined to find out what it was out there bobbing in the rough waters.
A throat cleared, and a deep friendly voice asked, “Ma’am, you alright? You’ve been standing here for a long time.”
“I’m fine,” she replied. After all, she always enjoyed the beach. What a contrast to the warm sandy beaches she grew up going to. There wasn’t any warm water out there that was for sure, not even now in the dog days of summer. Somehow that seemed so foreign to her. Standing on a beach covered with stones, a beach where you didn’t want to take your shoes off, much less put your toes in the water. The thoughts made her shiver.
She turned to the man that was watching the surf with her. “You’re a storm lover too, aren’t you?”
“I’ve always loved watching the storms move in. This is so different. The wind chills you to the bone. The white caps are so choppy- but there is something in the distance. I can’t quite make out what it is.”
Stu smiled and told her, “Just watch. It’s in the current heading this way. You’ll know in just a little bit.” He didn’t want to spoil her discovery. He warned her as he turned to head back to his finish his chores,” You really should go in once you figure it out. The storm’s brewing. From all the signs, it’s going to be a nasty one. You should get inside before it hits.”
She nodded,"I’ll be going in soon, just a few more minutes.”
She watched as the object drifted in on the choppy waters. He wasn’t kidding, it was moving in quickly, whatever it was. Crystal kept her eyes trained on the horizon. The object was huge, maybe a cruise ship? She wasn’t so sure. Whatever it was the wind and currents were pushing it right into the bay. The winds shifted, Crystal realized that the winds blew right off of the North Pole. The temperature dropped dramatically. Her body started shivering, she willed herself to stay just a couple of minutes more before she went in. She really wanted to know what that thing was.
The winds shifted slightly. The clouds seemed to part just a little and the sun shone on the object drifting into the bay. All of the sudden it hit her, it was an iceberg. “Oh my goodness gracious!” In all of her life, she’d never seen an iceberg except on videos. There it bobbed on the waves just yards in front of her. She couldn’t believe her luck. The clouds closed once again sending cold shivers down her spine. She decided it was time to head back to her hotel.
The storm blew in much quicker than Crystal expected. As she walked toward the hotel the skies grew more and more foreboding, the winds much more blustery. She could hardly stand up. Crystal felt like trying to walk in a hurricane, all tilted over to keep from toppling over.
The first wave of rain hit as she crossed the hotel’s front porch. Crystal shoved the front door of the hotel shut against the wind, and bounded up the stairs to see if she could still see the iceberg from the window in her room. She watched the iceberg dance in the water. There was a life to this storm and the dance had just begun.
As dinner time grew closer the winds howled around the hotel. Crystal could feel the windows quake and wind blow through the cracks. The rains started coming down in sheets. Only it wasn’t like the sheets blowing in the gentle summer breezes, at times she could definitely see it raining sideways. In the lulls, she could catch a glimpse of the iceberg, but mostly it was just sheets and sheets of pouring rain. She was amazed with all of the wind and waves the iceberg seemed anchored in the mouth of the bay.
Crystal left her room to go down to dinner. The hotel had the dining room set up to over look the bay, the windows didn’t reveal a lot in the darkening evening. The reflection of the fireplace seemed to dance on the blackness of the window pane. You could hear the sizzle as drops of rain fell through the chimney and hit the blazing logs. The fire felt good after standing so long on the beach. It was such a cozy dinner in the little hotel. Each guest was quietly taking in the sounds of the storm. The storm lovers and storm haters ate a quiet meal, listening to the howling winds rattle the sides of the hotel. After dinner, Crystal decided to call it a night.
She pulled up the comforter and settled down for the night. The sound of the rain pelting the tin roof soothed her to sleep.
Crystal dreamed about the iceberg. She stood on its massive surface, climbed and explored the huge mass of ice. She determined that the mass of ice was solid under her feet. It didn’t have the feeling of floating like she expected. Crystal felt driven to explore every inch of the berg. She stood at the edge and watched the way the waves splashed up onto the iceberg. She explored the nooks and crannies, the crevices and chasms. She ran from side to side of the huge mass to see the other icebergs that floated down with the storm bounced and bobbed in the ocean.
Blue skies above, sea birds singing, warm breezes had replaced the howling blustery winds of the day before. She was amazed by the beauty, by the solitary peacefulness found there. Crystal started to walk back toward the middle of the iceberg.
She heard a strange growling sound. She didn’t have a clue as to what could have been making such a noise. All of the sudden behind her she heard a huge cracking noise followed by the crashing surge of waves.
The iceberg twisted and turned in the water. Crystal lost her balance and fell on the cold hard ice. Where she had been standing just seconds before had fallen off into the ocean and was now floating away. The realization that danger was all around her startled her wake.
Crystal climbed out of bed and walked over to the window. The rains had subsided, the winds were starting to calm, the storm had passed, and the iceberg had been joined by several more in the bay.
When Crystal went down to breakfast the owners of the hotel were telling the guests that several of the fishermen in the area were willing to take folks out to see a real iceberg. She couldn’t believe it, even after her dream, she was first in the line to signing up. She arrived at the landing ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
The gentleman that had encouraged her to get in out of the weather yesterday, Stu, was working on the lines of the boat she had signed up to go on. He looked up and smiled, “Figured it out, I see.”
“Sure did,” Crystal flirted right back. “That storm really did move in quickly.” The small talk continued with others showing up to go on the trip. Adventure seekers ready to start the trip, excitedly waited on the dock. None of them had ever seen so much freshwater ice floating on the salt water before.
The captain welcomed the guests aboard. Each person donned their life vests, each listened to the first mate Stu, give the ‘stewardess’ safety talk on the little boat. Of course, that caused a few giggles, as Stu was a real ham and made the safety talk a hilarious satire of an airplane hostess. Finally, Stu and the crew loosened the ropes, the engines churned and the boat slowly moved from the dock.
In less than thirty minutes the boat pulled beside the iceberg she spotted the afternoon before. She thought it was massive from the beach, this was unbelievable. This little boat sitting in the water beside of it reminded her of a child playing with a toy boat in the bathtub.
Cameras clicked, videos taped, everyone was amazed by the mass of ice that was floating above the water. The captain and Stu kept a close watch, each totally aware of the dangers above them, and the dangers below them.
The captain made the announcement, “We’ll be moving back, finish up any picture taking.”
Crystal could tell there was a level of anxiety that wasn’t there when they were on the dock. She started to ask him if everything was alright, when she heard that strange growling sound.
The boat engines were instantly thrust into reverse. With a lurch, passengers tumbled and the little boat started moving back away from the iceberg. Within seconds, the face of the iceberg split from main body of the berg. It fell into the water right where they had been sitting seconds before. The boat tipped and rock with the waves caused by the mass of ice that had hit the water. The little boat took on a bit of water, which sent the passengers into a tizzy.
The captain and mate calmly kept moving further away from the iceberg and its calf. The adventure seekers were ready to call it a day. The captain reminded everyone of the true size of an iceberg, before he turned the boat back for the shore. Stu threw a large camera over the edge of the boat. Once the camera was hooked up, Stu strolled inside the cabin. He gathered the passengers in front of a large monitor. The captain had saved the best for last. He slowly steered the boat around the iceberg and its calf. The sunlight reflected only a few feet into the water, but the images were amazing. For all of the beauty in the light, the iceberg was just as fascinating if not more so under the water’s surface.
Crystal experienced the iceberg. She might not have climbed on it, but she watched its massive beauty from above and below. She listened as it growled and cracked. She experienced the ride from the calving berg hitting the water. She experienced these lessons taught at the hands of the first mate and captain. There was more under the surface, and she couldn’t wait to see what it was.