Recently, I was in London, immersed in the heaving mass of city life. I was reminded of the things one misses when living in Greenland. Here are some of them.
Coffee. As far as I know, it is not possible to buy a good cup of coffee in Greenland. People used to drive out to Nuuk's airport café, as it had a reputation for the best coffee in town. But the café has changed hands and I can’t say I was all that impressed even before the café’s latest incarnation. There are several places you can buy coffee in town, but again, nothing that remotely makes me swoon with pleasure.
Milk. It is possible to buy fresh milk in the supermarket, but I have never done so, as it is the monetary equivalent of giving up your first-born child. There is no milk produced in Greenland, so fresh milk is shipped in from Iceland. Instead, long-life milk is the norm. Yes, at first it is disgusting. But then you get used to it and don’t notice. So, when abroad, drinking a glass of fresh milk has a similar effect on me to that coffee-induced swoon.
Things. In London, in particular, it seems that you can buy, see, and do anything. You want a transparent backpack with internal lighting to display its contents? No problem. You want to see one of the world’s largest collections of dodo bones? Easy. You want to reflect on your place in the universe, while standing on a perspective-warping gangway in a room half-filled with engine oil? Done.
Yes, it’s nice to be in London. But there are also things I miss about Greenland when I'm not there.
Our boat. In the space of half an hour, we can sail out of Nuuk, anchor in the spot pictured, and be drinking wine and pondering the perfect reflection of snow-topped mountains in the mirror-like water. (And to think that I stood in line for an hour an a half to see the reflections in an oil-filled room!)
Silence. From my bedroom, I can open the window onto the snowy mountain scene behind our house, and listen to…nothing.
Awesomeness. When my son, aged six, was asked to draw a picture of our living room, he included the massive front and back windows, filled with views of the sea and the mountains respectively. The awesome scenery fills every empty space. In the winter, shimmering green auroras swirl across the dark sky. In spring, the setting sun, lingering low on the horizon, casts the snowy hills in deep orange and pink blankets of light. In the autumn storms, heaving grey clouds pour over the mountain’s crest.
Maybe some things aren’t so easy to find, even in London.