Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Last Day of Spring!

Today is the last day of spring.  However, the vegetation in Greenland is on a different time frame.  Looking at the plant life on the historical hike to Tele Island in Sisimiut one might say that spring is just beginning.    Around Sisimiut, Arctic Willow grows in abundance.  It is the northern-most woody shrub in the world, and its catkins are just beginning to bloom.  Arctic willow is dioecious, that is, the male and female catkins grow on different plants.  Pictured are the beautiful male catkins about  2.5 to 4 cm (1 - 1.5 inches).  You can also clearly see that the leaves are only about half grown.  
The plant in the second photograph is  Roseroot.  Right now it is easy to overlook these plants as they are just sprouting.  In July they will grow to more than 20 cms but right now are only about 5 cm. The root and leaves of this plant are edible.  Like Arctic Willow, one plant has male bits and another plant has the female bits. Of course plants aren't the only thing to see when walking around Sisimiut.  Take a walk along the dockside area and you will be reminded that this is very much a hunting and fishing society.  In Greenland there are approximately 56,000 inhabitants of which fully 20% are licensed hunters.  On the pier a few locals were selling fresh Arctic Char and some fresh seal meat.
 As always there is a riot of colourful fishing boats of all sizes in the marina.  If you know what to look for, it is easy to spot harpoons mounted on the bow of some of the larger boats for hunting whales.  
Heading up the hill into town there is a small but excellent museum, a church, restaurants, cafes, gift shops, a couple of very good shopping centres, an excellent book store and a variety of other shops and businesses.  Afterall, Sisimiut, with a population of 5,498 is the second largest city in Greenland!