Reindeer see in ultra-violet light. Predators that are disguised among trees in Arctic snow to our eyes stand out as black in the UV-lit landscape. So does lichen, an important food source.
And our piss, too, stands out; positively glows. Add a settlement of sharp Mongolians inebriated on an afternoon's quota of fermented horse's milk, me, and an ensuing challenge.
Bets were layed: would the reindeer prefer my piss as a foreigner to that of the herders? Reindeer consume it when they can, due to the salt content.
Add also, by the way, a contingent of wives. aunties, sisters and grandmothers as onlookers as we lined up.
Perhaps by way of interlude, you will understand why I did not include the visual that so obviously should accompany this post. Suffice to say that in the cold I was not best presented when I unzipped, and to the mirth and delight of all a draw was pronounced, and perhaps accordingly I did not win the heart of the chieftain's daughter, or his wife, though his mother did make some kind of remark that made her cackle, while she pointed to my nether regions that had just previously been exposed to frostbite...
a stream of light
and I the traveler
am here to learn
-herders are teachers