September 21, 1926
Ingstad collects berries to make a berry jam but runs into a bear without his rifle
The Land of Feast and Famine
Topics: (click to open)
Directly across the lake from our cabin was "Cranberry Hill." There berries grew in red profusion, simply begging to be plucked. I lost no time in paddling across to gather a bucketful so that we might have a bit of jam to eat during the winter. One day I was walking along deep in thought, as I shoveled up handfuls of berries and threw them into the pail. Suddenly I heard a rustle back in the brush and looked up. At the same time another pair of eyes looked up. They belonged to a bear. It stood behind a rise of ground and blinked stupidly at me. It would be difficult to determine which one of us was the more amazed. We glared at each other for several moments, no doubt each thinking much the same thought: " What the devil are you doing here in my berry patch? " At length the bear turned on his heel and slowly shuffled off among the trees. From that day on, I never went berry-picking without my rifle.
Note by Travis: Berries are discussed in many Arctic texts, but it never seems to be a necessary component of the diet - for instance to ward off scurvy or other deficiency diseases. It's a local food source that's easy to collect and thus makes for a great "spice" to be added to other foods to increase their palatability.