Cape Sheridan, Ellesmere Island…1909
It was spring. There were places throughout the world where, when the season came, it was fruitful and obvious. This place wasn’t one of them. The sky above was grey, showing only a hint of sun, whose rays of light and warmth were held in check by the clouds above which seemingly, failed to move and might remind one of soft stone, if such an image was possible for an individual. The wind blew across the snowy, rocky landscape adding to the feelings of anyone there, that this was indeed a hostile and unforgiving place and those that survived there were practical and at times, hard in character, understanding the balance between life and death, joy and suffering, a full belly and starvation.
The sky, the harsh wind and bleak landscape reflected the feelings of those about. Good, bad, indifferent. Sometimes it was the same, bunched together with attitudes rising to the surface at various times depending on the trigger. The weather and climate acted like a mirror to those subject to it. For some it was the end of the world, for others, it was their world. A brutal reality that offered little in the way of comfort and those that called this place their home took their joy and pleasure in the simple things life offered and savored as they could for what it was.
To the Inuit or Eskimos as they were called by those that came from far away, it was neither good or bad. They were indifferent to it. It just was. They could not change the snow that came from above, the fall of night or a hidden sun. They accepted what everyday brought them and did what had to be done. If guidance was required in the course of their daily activities, they knew where to find it and were not afraid to do so. Like the weather, it just was.
The white men with them didn’t like it when the sun played games or when the wind became angry and spoke with authority It affected their moods and they didn’t hide their feelings very well. They walked about with sullen faces and an angry manner snapping and shouting at those who in one way or another displeased them or caused them any inconvenience. They were not meant for this place and they knew it. The sooner they were gone, the better it would be for everyone, especially for them, to return to their land and their people.
Only the Negro, Henson, seemed to be immune to such feelings that affected the others. In behavior and manners he seemed more akin to the Inuit. He was their friend and the bridge between the natives and the outsiders. Soon though, he would fall into the same category as the others, a memory that in time would fade. For it was spring in the north and with the business at hand completed, he would soon leave with the others he came with, with was a shame for he was genuinely liked and of all the outsiders, he would be missed most of all.
The Inuit that had been carried to Cape Sheridan by the S.S. ROOSEVELT cared little for any of the reasons that brought the outsiders to this land. Their reasons were their own and made little sense to the Inuit when the strangers tried to explain it to them. Why would anyone want to travel long distances unless they had to? The reason to be at one place was a difficult concept to grasp. Why was one place better than another place? Well, whatever the reason, it was their business and those of the north let it be. For them, one day ran into the next. They hunted, mended clothing and gear, ate, drank, made love and waited for the spring thaw. When they left Cape Sheridan, they would head south for trade and supplies and pick up a few luxuries for their otherwise simple life. Their existence would continue with little thought of those they were with at the moment and this time and the people involved would live on in stories told to amuse and to teach as the months became years and went on.