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Scythian horsemen, Napoleonic raids

In recent summers it has rained more than ever before in the elders' collective memory. It rains noticeably more - heavier rains of longer duration - than it did even twenty-five years ago, when I first began visiting the Arctic. When the first blue ocean event comes to pass - surely any summer now - the tip towards a wetter Arctic summer will in all probability gain momentum. Climate models suggest that the event will set in motion a whole cascade of polar-climatic changes that in time may transform the Arctic and accelerate warming and sea level rise around the world.

Changes are already afoot. Locally, the summer rains have led to a proliferation of verdure in uplands where the ground had been lichen-spotted gravel and dust. The increase in plant matter has been a boon for lemmings, whose explosion in numbers has in turn led to larger fox litter sizes. More fox kits may in turn be helping to boost wolf numbers. A pack of twenty was spotted a few miles west this time last year. Reports of wolves skulking around the outskirts of town have become more frequent.

When recently a couple of the foxes that I've been visiting weekly came down from the den to check me out, I'd been turning over in my mind the various shades of invasion: Invasion as intentional and violent, as that in Ukraine. Invasion as acquisitive and sly, as the southern-Canadian incursion into the Arctic has been. Invasion as amoral and blind, as with Arctic rain.

There is much that sets these categories apart, but at least one thread to bind them: a rise in suffering. The suffering of the Ukrainian people and that region's animal life. The suffering of so many Inuit in residential schools and at home under the influence of trauma and drink. The suffering of Inuit dogs, their old livelihood obsolete. The suffering of the lemming. The suffering of the fox.

Then, for a little while - over a lifespan of months or weeks - the fox plays and the lemming eats.

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