For a vast and flat landscape with wide horizons and short vegetation it is surprisingly easy to lose stuff in the tundra. Tussocks, willows and permafrost erosion create the perfect environment for anything dropped to be lost permanently.
Last year we spend hours looking for lost handheld radios, a compass, drone bits and … gloves! Two of those were mine (and of different pairs). 10 months ago I left the island thinking that they were gone for good.
But as much of a black hole the tundra is, it occasionally regurgitates a lost item. This year it turned out to be three:
On our first visit to Collinson Head where we are setting up our some of our drone field sites, Isla suddenly shouts out, bends down and picks up the brown working glove I lost last year. What a surprise!
Full of joy, we head on to our next plot, till I suddenly realised that I lost one of the new pair of gloves that I bought this year. Backtracking for a kilometre, I am about to accept my karma – a glove lost for one gained – when I spot a red and black patch on between the cotton grass. There is my second glove.
The following day I am rummaging around the rangers’ workshop looking for a pair of clippers to cut tin sheet, when I spot a too familiar looking red glove sitting on the shelf: Indeed, the last one of my lost gloves from last year, found by the rangers in spring and kindly brought back to camp.
Three gloves lost and three gloves found, one pair united and two still waiting for to meet their partners upon our return to Edinburgh. Together with the beluga whales, bears and musk ox, such little things provide us joy and make working in the cold and wet of the tundra worthwhile.