Published: August 11, 2012
By Mark Seth Lender
Two bears sharing beluga (Photo: © Mark Seth Lender)
Mark Seth Lender watches as two polar bears get an unexpected treat.
(Churchill Wild, Hudson Bay, August 8) After the ice breaks, and the arctic night yields to longer and longer light, tundra on the edge of taiga turns green, and flowers. Fields of crimson fireweed; cloud berries ripening red to soft, sweet, orange-pink; swarms of insects for the birds. In the ice cold meltwater that floats in the fissures above the permafrost (hard as a rock only inches down) a frog blinks and sticks out his tongue. The Sik Sik wakes from his burrowing sleep and squirreling over a boulder stops and stands up tall to meet perpetual day.
For Polar Bears despite the fireweed as bright as purple lightning and all the life abounding, this is a time of fasting. And the only feasting is on him, mosquitoes tormenting his soft nose and swollen eyes. But sometimes a bear gets lucky, lucky that something else has met an untimely end.
In the night a young beluga, his skin not yet turned from light grey to white, was caught on the reef at the grief of breaking waves and low tide. To Polar Bears, bounty. They gather round the remains in twos and threes and though the truce between them is temporal, for the sake of supper an uneasy peace abides.
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