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Nights in Antarctica

OFFSHORE NEW HARBOR CAMP, ANTARCTICA– The sea ice pops and cracks beneath our camp. They said the cold would make me sleep. But the sound is eerie entertainment that keeps my mind from slumber. My eyes search the tee-peed ceiling of my Scott tent for the faintest flaw. The sun refuses to set but lingers instead in variations of dusk. There is a rhythm here my body will take days to get used to. I’m so familiar with the sounds darkness brings that I only notice them here where darkness never comes. There is no hush, no stillness, no shift of energy and sound between night and day.

Sea ice over McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.

The rattle of my tent varies with the wind. One manmade sound comes and goes. The generator rages only when the solar panels cannot feed our computers and technical equipment with enough energy. Some in our party claim to have heard penguins last night, I did not.

Sea ice over McMurdo Sound.

The lack of darkness brings one perk for an insomniac. No flashlight is needed and fear of the dark does not keep you from roaming the ice at night. It’s not the dark but the cold we fear here. I bundle up and wander through our small camp and count, then recount the tents. I analyze the subtle differences in their shades of yellow.

Our tents and the sea ice.

My thoughts travel home to red ants on oak trees and mustard greens in the breeze. I am a long way from home. There is nothing green here, nothing grows toward the sun. I wonder when I might feel sand between my toes or here crickets in the darkness.

Tomorrow the work we came here for begins. Data collection is only hours away. I plan on leaving nothing of myself. I will work till my body aches. I will have peace of mind and body once the day is done. Tomorrow night I will defy the sun and make my own night as I sleep.

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8 Responses »

  1. Is it really cold there?
    What do u eat?

  2. Is it strange to think you are sleeping on ice?

  3. hi ana. i like this one. cold space. good colors. pics too! kiss kiss!

  4. Hi LaneSupher,

    It is really cold here. It’s coldest in the morning when I get up and run to the kitchen tent. We usually eat bacon or sausage in the morning and some type of toast. The cook makes us stew at night usually. It is weird sleeping on the ice. Sometimes as I am falling asleep I wonder if the ice I am sleeping will soon be only turbulent ocean once we leave.

    Thanks for Reading,

  5. Dear Patty,

    I can not speak highly enough about your son Brian. He is helpful, kind, capable, generous, and overflowing with integrity. He is an integral part of the expedition and the sight of him makes me smile. I often say to myself, “there’s Brian, doin’ what he does, takin’ care of business.”

    Thank You for Brian!!


  6. Hi Brian’s Mom!

    Brian is absolutely the best. I’m in charge of the seismic guns and other equipment and Brian has been one of the few people who is always there to help out no matter how unpleasant the job. There is only one of me and I rely on volunteer labor to get things done. He is an outstanding worker and one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever gone into the field with (this is about my 40th deployment). You certainly raised him right.


  7. Just sing Tennessee Flat box to help you fall asleep

  8. Andrea & Stian,
    Thank you for your kind compliments in regard to Brian and his work ethic. I get on line every night to
    check out your progress and am happy you have been able to overcome your obstacles. Stian, it sounds
    as if you have put in some long nights working on equipment so everything is operational the next day.
    The team is very lucky to have you. You must be an old hand at this after 40 deployments. It is reassuring
    to know that my son is with such capable people. This has been the chance of a lifetime for him and we
    all anxiously await his return to hear first hand about his experiences. He is planning to spend a week touring with David in New Zealand on the way back. He thought Christchurch was beautiful. I am so glad he is getting to see the world as we were not able to take many family vacations while he was growing up.
    If either of you ever have a chance to visit Montana, we would make an effort to show you around. Keep up the good work!!!