Seven years ago, when I moved into my apartment on Goodview Street in downtown St John’s, Canada, I awoke that first morning with a bedroom view of an enormous iceberg floating in the harbour entrance. “I guess that’s why they call it Goodview,” I mused, and then went about my day as if there wasn’t a 10-storey ice cathedral nearby.
It took me many years of travel and living abroad to learn how to appreciate icebergs. Spring just seems so unexciting without them.
Every year, these 10,000-year-old icebergs make their way from the Canadian Arctic and Greenland down through Iceberg Alley – along Labrador’s eastern coast, and then following the same eastern route along Newfoundland. Some years, there’s not much to see. Other years promise bountiful bergs. There have been tell tale signs this year, though – on the Avalon Peninsula a few weeks back, pack ice moved in and jammed up the coastline and the St John’s harbour. This hasn’t happened in decades. It’s typical of polar seas, after all.
So it’s no surprise that a peculiarly shaped behemoth of a berg came drifting along in Ferryland last week. And it didn’t take long to go viral.
I was visiting my parents on the south coast when I first heard about it. Someone had shared a photo of the iceberg eclipsing the homes around Ferryland. After a few frantic text messages to friends, I arranged an after-work trip to see it for myself once I got back to town. Icebergs move fast. There’s no certainty of one sticking around for long.
That’s why I’m in such a hurry to get out there. It’s impossible to know how long the iceberg will stick around. It could collapse, or roll over, or ground itself on the ocean floor. Or it could just keep drifting along into the Atlantic oblivion, eventually being whittled down to chunks of ice floating on the current.
Photos can’t do the iceberg’s scale or beauty justice, says Candice (Jared Clarke)
Newfoundland has notoriously awful winters that slog on for months without end. In March, we had hurricane-force winds that ripped through eastern Newfoundland. Sometimes it gets so cold, the entire electrical grid shuts down. The snow piles up with nowhere to put it.
But there’s a weird sort of charm in our awful winters. It’s every Newfoundlander’s favourite conversation topic. During storms, I follow locals on Twitter to see people turning snow banks into beer coolers, and we share photographs of empty junk food aisles at the Sobey’s supermarket. “Do you have your storm chips [crisps]?” is a popular question before another massive weather system hits.
Our reward at the end of it all is these unfathomably large pinnacles of ice, drifting down Iceberg Alley, pulling thousands of years of ancient history along in their wake.
By the time Tuesday rolls around, the Ferryland iceberg is still making headlines. Ferryland is about an hour from St John’s; my friends and I decide, in the last few hours of…