Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Thirteen days to go.

You?ve no idea how beautiful a stack of beaten up, grey aviation fuel
drums can look.

Today David finished grooming the strip between the base and the
summer camp and then he and Vivien started putting together the
aircraft refuelling station by stacking about sixty barrels out near
the base. It promises that the arrival of firm friends and new faces
is very, very close. Thirteen days, barring delays, to the first
plane. And last night Domenico and I, who?ve toasted each milestone
through the winterover, raised a glass to the last 5 per cent of our
winterover. Elsewhere, we know that the Astrolabe has already
departed Hobart and after a brief stop at MacQuarie Island will be
putting in to DDU in a few days, to end their winterover. She is
carrying the first fifty people of the new summer campaign. The team
to open MZS are assembling in Christchurch, New Zealand, from where
they will fly to McMurdo and then go by helicopter to the base. Their
radio is due to come on, on October 31st. The flood of Antarctica?s
migratory people is beginning to arrive for the summer.

The bulk our preparation has been finished. The base has been cleaned
and is looking very new, and we are hard at work digging out the tents
and metal buildings of the summer camp from almost a year's
accumulated snowdrifts. We each are taking turns, fitting the work
around our regular hours. I have to say it does make a big
difference. A couple of months ago the camp looked truly abandoned,
and I realise that it kind of made me feel the same way. Now, the camp
looks tidy and renewed, and with it the future is looking more
optimistic. It's really good to be out in the sun. For me, an
outdoors person who has been inside so much of the last nine months,
it feels great to get out and do some simple work.

It?s getting warmer and warmer and for a brief time, the temperature
is noticeably oscillating between day and night. Through the day it
generally gets up to minus 45. Bliss. Windows are open all over the
base, giving that fresh, spring feeling. And the other day, looking
out from the glacio lab?s window, I put my hand up to shield my eyes
from the high sun, and felt my palm warm from its rays ? a forgotten
and very welcome sensation.

Evenings are a magical time just now. We are only six days away from
our last Antarctic sunset of 2011. Night is already a thing firmly of
the past. We have good strong daylight twenty four hours a day. And
the evening sky is the most colourful I have ever seen, with rainbow
like colours right round the horizon and reaching high up into the
sky. To the south at mid ?night?, when the sun swings down like a
pendulum and just dips a few degrees below the horizon, we see a sunny
glow and, above blue snow, flanking either side soft versions of all
the colours of the rainbow, from orange on the horizon reaching up to
a pale blue sky. But the graduation of rainbow colours also occurs
horizontally as you look round the horizon, from the orange through
reds, purples and into blue in the north.
And there, where the blue colour develops on the horizon, a shallow
rainbow of reds and purples arcs over the base. Below the arc, deep,
deep blue sky on the contrasts with brilliant white snow, above the
arc the sky is very pale blue. And as the sun sinks lower below the
horizon that red arc lifts up into the sky, at a rate that you can
almost see it rise up - like you can be almost aware of the hands of a
clock move - and the deep blue band below it thickens. I suppose
it's a transient thing that'll be gone in just a few days time as the
sun gets higher, but it's such a fabulous sight that, after all, I'm
not sorry that the night sky is gone.

Change is happening at last, and quicker and quicker. Outside, inside,
all around us. And it feels really good, now. Come on that plane, you
can't come soon enough.

You know, I can not believe that it was only fifty-five weeks ago that
I met these guys for the first time ? the beginning of October 2010.
Feels like we've been together for a lifetime.

Concordia station 75°06'06''S - 123°23'43''E

This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

No comments:

Post a Comment