We chugged out into the bay and talked water: its taste, its provenance, its relative value when you rip it off of floating ice mountains instead of get it from your tap. Dan said his first taste of iceberg melt made him a believer. "The townie water, which I would've told you didn't have a smell, after I smelled the iceberg water, smelled like pennies," he said. "This has been frozen for, minimum, 10,000 years. Anything that is in the air currently that us buffoons as humans have made…
"… before the Industrial Revolution, is what I like to say," Ed said, picking up the thought. "We have had emails from someone in the States that said, 'If you keep harvesting icebergs, you're going to unlock some kind of disease that's in the iceberg and might kill everybody.' I said, 'Well, if we do that, there's probably another iceberg with the antidote in there. I'll sell that to you and make another fortune.'"
It's one thing to joke; it's another to actually tamper with slick, floating mountains in their death throes. I'd heard a version of this anecdote where Dan and a buddy kayaked out to visit icebergs, but on Ed's boat, he retold it for the cabin: "Cunningham and I were out on boats one day, we thought, 'Ah, sure, our brains aren't fully developed, we can do whatever we want.' You paddle right up onto the 'berg and get out. And hang around." The flat surface of the big ice held huge quantities of standing meltwater, and they Canadianly swam in a clear, gelid pool. "I was 19, I thought this was the coolest thing ever. Instantly, upon learning a single thing about icebergs, you realize you couldn't possibly have been more stupid."
Ed replied: "We hit one the other day, took one scoop, and left. Sure enough, as soon as we left, pchew. You'll hear it. They'll tell ya. They'll grunt and groan." The term for an iceberg tantrum is a "roll," a gentle verb for the violent shearing and shifting of its famously imbalanced weight, perhaps splitting, perhaps killing people. Ed declined to participate in a Red Bull stunt a few years back that he thought too foolhardy: towing a wakeboarder behind a Jet Ski so that the boarder could ramp up and along the side of icebergs. "They wanted us to get involved," he said, "and it was just too silly to do what they wanted done."
That's the difference here between a local and the ogling out-of-towners -- "come from aways," in the local parlance. The visitor sees a beautiful novelty. A local like Ed recalls the fishing trawler that collided with an iceberg and limped back to port with a hundred tons of smashed ice on its deck. A thousand close calls and tragedies between. In 2003, to pick just one, a group who went out to scoop up ice tried to chip an iceberg using an axe. It cracked and dumped them into the frigid ocean. A boy survived atop an ice floe, and a man clung to it as well, while another man swam and then ran for help -- a rowboat, eventually. The boy was fine, as was the swimmer who went for help. But the man who spent two hours bobbing against a chunk of ice in the North Atlantic was never revived.