Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Year On Ice

We finally made it.   We are scheduled to depart Antarctica tomorrow. For Jamie, it will have been over one year and just under one for me.   It's been incredible.  So incredible that we have signed up to do another winter.  Yes, you heard it right. We are coming back in four months to spend another season under the dark yet glittering skies of Antarctica.   We'll both keep our same positions-Jamie as the Galley Admin and I'll again be an Equipment Operator with Best Recycling.  We were both thrilled to get our contracts again and we can't wait to come back. It makes leaving a bit easier.

In my last post I talked about how the sun was just starting to give us a lighter shade of dark blue.   No longer. We are in full on bright mode now. I woke up last night at 2:30am because I had forgotten to pull the shade and it was bright as day out there.   Now that the sun is really and truly up, I am happy to be seeing it and am feeling more centered.  I like that it's bright out and I can see the mountains and recognize people from a distance.    But I still miss the coziness of the darkness and the night sky.  I had a brilliant dream about the stars the other night-there was so much twinkling and glittering!

With the sun coming back we got two weeks of nacreous clouds.   Nacreous clouds can only be seen when the sun is between 1 and 6 degrees below the horizon and only at the poles.   The are beautiful.  The are, unfortunately, a cause of and contribute to the hole in the ozone but they are beautiful.  "Oil Streaks in the Sky" is the way on friend described them. They were a beautiful treat to welcome the sun back.

The move into Summer was a bit more intense than I had expected it to be.   There are always stories about grumpy "winterovers" hating when new people come in and I was convinced that I wouldn't be one of those people- I like people! I get a lot of energy from people!   Oh but I was wrong.   The influx has two main phases. The first in  "Winfly" (short for "winterflight" it's the first flight after winter).   Winfly doubled our population in two days.   While it's true I was happy to see all the new faces I forgot that it also meant that I would lose the cosy community of Winter where I knew all 141 people.  All of a sudden there were 160 new faces on station and I hardly knew them. Also, because i do like people, I found myself drained of energy because I was trying to figure out who everyone was and be short, I found myself hiding in corners, eating in my room and only sitting with faces I knew from winter.  While I don't think I was particularly mean-I was not happy.

And then summer started.  Our station population jumped to 600 in a week.   I felt manic AND panicked.  Trying to get a meal in the galley became an exercise is patience and crowd control.  I thought I was managing it well until a friend found me standing by the salad line and came over to check-in on me because I looked so lost and overwhelmed.  A lot of people all at once!

On the bright side, there are a lot of great things happening with all the new people on station.   We had scientists come in for Winfly this year so there's been science happening since August. The dance crew has already put together and performed a dance performance,  departments are filling in and getting lots of work done and all the trails are back open for summer recreation.    And while the sun is up 24 hours a day now it  still dips a bit and we are getting stunning colors on the mountains.

I'm looking forward to another Winter but right now we are both really looking forward to Vacation!  We'll go to Vanuatu for 10 days, India for a month, Mexico for 2 weeks and then home for December 16th!  Home for the holidays!  It's gonna be great!

Nacreous Clouds

Sea Ice training.  We went out on the ice and learned how to look at a crack and decide if it was safe enough to cross with a vehicle. it invovled lots of shoveling, drilling and a little math.  It was a cold but enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.