Julie Cruikshank on Glaciers

Surging glaciers engage the senses. Visually, they are spectacular. Aurally, they are alarmingly noisy. Hunters, scientists, hikers, and Aboriginal elders all remark on the thunderous cracking and explosive noises they make. Tactile imagery is central to many stories that portray glaciers as bitterly cold but also, surprisingly, as emitting unbearable heat. Glaciers in these stories appear to be sentient themselves. They respond to humans and especially to smells when meat is fried nearby. They are also quick to hear and to take offence when humans demonstrate cockiness by making jokes at their expense. They are apparently equipped with vision when, for example, they are characterized as giant worms “with eyes as big as the moon.” Ambiguous entities like glaciers call to mind other ambiguities. Stories told about glaciers slide into other stories.

– Julie Cruikshank, Do Glaciers Listen? p.69

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