This is a story that I wrote for my Grand-children in 2012. I thought maybe you would enjoy this little frosty fairy-tale.
It is dedicated to Caitlin, Lillian, Natasha, Ian and Gabriel.
FINDING SOMEWHERE BETTER
Once upon a time, in the icy wilds of the Arctic, lived a little couple called Iluk and Siku.
They lived quite happily in a small village of Ice people, in the vast coldness of the Nutaaq, ice-bergs and glacial wastes.
The huge piece of ice, or iluk, which they called home, moved continually as it rested on the frozen sea; but, trapped by other huge icebergs, it always remained at the North Pole.
Everyone in the village lived in iglopuks: large snow houses, or smaller igloos and they ate the scraps of raw fish left on the ice by Nanuq, the Polar bear or by fat, sleek seals.
The Ice-folk had no need for possessions; they did no work except build their homes and gather their food. They lived in cold contentment in that beautiful, remote place, with the kinguyakku, that we know as the spectacular Northern Lights, dancing in the sky in the long Winter nights.
During the endless Summer days of the midnight sun, they watched Arctic Tern swoop in the skies and they conversed with the huge whales that visited the North Pole to feed in the plankton-rich waters.
Arriuk, the killer whale, brought tales of other lands far away from the coldness of the frozen North.
Tales of towns and cities by the shore, filled with people. Huge people, not tiny like the Ice-folk. These people were warm blooded, not made of extremely hard ice and the little folk widened their eyes and shook their heads in disbelief.
Arriuk told stories of beaches covered in golden sand, with no pukak or snow-crust on the ground. Green fields and trees !
The Ice people listened to these tales and smiled and nodded and then wandered back to their bleak little homes, feeling oh, so glad, that they did not live in such weird places.
But Iluk and Siku walked slowly back to their iglopuk, deep in thought and all that evening and late into the night, they stayed awake, discussing the stories that the whale had told. With each hour, they became more and more discontented with their little home. They suddenly wanted “something better”.
Next day they told the other Ice-folk of their decision to wander further South, to seek out new lands.
The rest of the villagers were dismayed and tried to dissuade Iluk and Siku; but the discontented pair were determined to find “somewhere better“. And so the Ice-folk waved a sad farewell as Iluk and Siku stepped gingerly onto a large ice-floe and were carried Southwards on the waves.
They drifted for many weeks and saw nothing but ice and whales and Polar bears; pretty much the same as they had seen back in the village.
Iluk was beginning to doubt the wiseness of their venture, but Siku was eager to go on. Iluk loved her so much that he could never refuse her, so “go on” they did, until, eventually, the ice-floe bump-bumped against some ice-covered rocks and then became lodged in the icy waters of a little bay.
The ground was still covered in a thick layer of ice and a blizzard was blowing; but, cold as it was, they were definitely further South than before and so they stepped off their kassuq, or drifting lump of ice, and took their first, tentative steps on land.
The lack of motion made them feel a little disorientated, but they rested by a huge snow-drift, a tipvigut, and caught their breath.
In the distance they saw people; large people; people made of skin and bone, not ice. People wearing animal skins and laughing and calling to each other as they travelled across the ice on sleds, which were pulled by some strange animals that Iluk and Siku had never seen before. Iluk stared in amazement, this was quite unexpected, but Siku was delighted and nudged Iluk and said,
“ I want to wear some skins, I want to be like them !”
And so, because he could refuse her nothing, Iluk scurried about on the ice, until he found some tiny scraps of skin, dropped by some predator and they wrapped themselves up and felt happy and, strangely, warmer than before. After a while, Siku noticed that Iluk was a wee bit smaller than he had been a few weeks ago and Iluk noticed that Siku was smaller too.
“This place does not suit us,” sighed Siku, “We need to go further South, to the lands that Arriuk told us about. We must find ‘somewhere better’ “.
And so they hopped onto another kassuq and were carried South once again.
They noticed that, although there were still other ice-floes floating amongst the waves, there were far fewer than on their previous journey and now more birds filled the sky.
Seagulls flocked around them, following strange vessels that cut swiftly through the waves. These vessels towed huge nets and shoals of sparkling fish were showered onto the vessels as the nets were pulled on board.
” Fishermen from Canada ” a passing seal told them and Iluk and Siku gazed in wonder.
Before long the ice-floe entered a sort of bay area, with large walls on either side.
“Oh my goodness, where are we ?” wailed Siku.
“ This is a harbour !” squawked a seagull, as it flew overhead. “ The fishing boats rest here. This is a safe place “
Iluk and Siku waited, breathlessly, until the ice rocked against a stoney beach and then they jumped as far as they could and landed in a heap of snow that had been piled up beside a tall, wooden building.
Snow was falling steadily, but Iluk and Siku were puzzled to discover that they could see patches of dark, bare ground, dotted around. They had never before seen anywhere that was not completely white and they pulled their animal skins around their little ice bodies and felt afraid.
But soon Siku was boldly staring at all the people by the harbour.
They wore furs or similarly thick clothes to protect themselves from the bitter cold, but some, she noticed, got into huge things on wheels and were carried swiftly along the roads and others went into large houses that seemed to glow with light and comfort, reminding her of the Aurora Borealis back in their village. She brushed a qannik, or snow-flake, from her face and said,
” I want to live in a house, I want to be like them !”
And so Iluk, who, you remember, could deny her nothing, wandered around the harbour, where the men were unloading the fishing boats.
He listened to the men as they talked and rubbed their hands together and turned their collars up against the cold and he learned of “boarding houses” and “hotels” and places to stay. So, Iluk and Siku found a hotel and slipped, unseen, into the luxurious lobby and Siku smiled and said,
” Oh, yes ! This is so much nicer than our old, frozen village. This is ‘somewhere better’ “
But next morning, Iluk had shrunk a little and Siku was feeling very wobbly and so they decided that this place did not suit them either,
“Let’s move on and find “somewhere better” said Siku and so they did.
They walked to the harbour and looked for an ice-floe, but could not see one that was near enough to the shore. A passing seagull dropped down from his perch on top of a ship’s mast, to grab a discarded piece of bread from some fisherman’s breakfast. Iluk and Siku called out to him and indicated their desire to travel South.
“Oh,” said the seagull, “I am flying South, hop on my back and I will give you a lift !”
So Iluk and Siku hopped on and settled down in the soft feathers as the seagull took flight.
The bird flew swiftly on over frozen lakes and snow-clad mountains; over small towns nestling in deep snow and Iluk and Siku smiled happily at each other as they travelled high up in the cold, cold air,
“This is so much better than our old, frozen village ” said Siku ………and Iluk had to agree; it was !
The seagull flew on; his powerful wings driving them through the air, Southward, ever Southward.
Soon they saw lakes that sparkled blue, no longer covered with ice. Roads, black as coal, snaked through fields that had only a very thin layer of snow, the green of the fields could be clearly seen.
Then onwards, over large towns, hugging the coast. Huge ports where gigantic boats disgorged hundreds of people.
Iluk and Siku gazed in wonderment at all the sights; their eyes wide and their mouths agape,
“Oh yes, this is so much better than our old, frozen village” sighed Siku and they hugged each other, not noticing how thin their arms had become.
The seagull flew on and now the fields were all green. Animals grazed peacefully and people strolled slowly by the sea, in the warm sunshine. Children played on golden sands and, out in the bay, water-skiers zipped by, pulled by speed-boats that skimmed powerfully over the sparkling, azure water.
Iluk and Siku felt weak but with what ?
The sun was so bright it hurt their eyes. So hot it hurt their bodies,
” I don’t like this,” wailed Siku, “This is not “better”, I want to go back to our frozen village!”.
But the seagull didn’t hear them as he swooped around the resort, revelling in the sunshine,
“We will rest a while” said the seagull, “There will be rich pickings here !”
Down he flew and landed on a pier where many people sat, enjoying their candy-floss and ice-cream.
But there was no sign of Iluk and Siku, so the seagull shrugged, flapped his wings and, feeling some water on his back , shook himself and then pecked hungrily at a stale sandwich.