The wind in Kangerlussuaq has ripped the snow off an unforgiving sheet of ice. I pry my eyelids open. I walk down Meyers Avenue and round our barracks like I’m on patrol. It beats not sleeping in a chair in a dark room. I check on the shack out back. The plywood is peeling, but the satellite dish next door looks intact. There’s a bit of a cliff here that drops down to the alluvial flatlands, the silt quicksand, and the Søndre Strømfjord. Across a bridge is the Black Ridge and the Sugarloaf. I walk a distance up the road until I can get a good look down. I am half asleep. I listen. There’s little more than the wind and a couple young Yukoners, far below, being screamed-at to get off the frozen silt. The shouts sound like a bird.
There’s a guy in the common room who will buy my sleep for a few trinkets. I can give the trinkets to the boys and they can trade them for other trinkets and we can have the start of a minor economy on a primary school’s linoleum floor. So and so wants the wood cutter. So and so wants the bison. So and so won’t be happy till he gets the whole of Greenland chiseled into a jigsaw of lapel trading pins.
—Thanks to Team Alaska, the Arctic Winter Games, and the people of Nuuk and Kangerlussuaq (2016