We had an arrival of 6 guests at our 3 person camp for this last week, making the total population of our little commune nine. For the last three days snow has fallen over the valleys and on McMurdo Station: 11-hour flights from Christchurch have boomeranged, helicopters have been stranded at field camps for two days in a row, and communication lines have failed daily. This week has been utter chaos.
But it has been incredibly enjoyable. With the arrival of visiting scientists we’ve had a fresh change of faces and new conversation, accompanied by the overwhelming sense of sitting in a burning building while being unable to escape. It’s a bit like having Thanksgiving dinner with your entire extended family.
Upon entering our camp and seeing me for the first time since September, one of our visitors said “Holy hell, you look like a pirate.” As I blushed from what I will interpret as a compliment, I soon realized he could have equivalently meant “Holy hell, what a train wreck”.
It’s officially been two months since I entered the field. I’ve travelled a bit in the last two years and my current tent will be the most consistent place I’ve lived in during this period. My sleeping bag is as comfortable as any mattress, I put on the same set of clothes for two weeks without thinking twice, and I don’t feel as much discomfort working in the cold. But I’ve also become accustomed to things I wish I hadn’t. The glaciers I wake up to in the morning have become as regular as a cityscape and the 24-hour sun feels natural and as if nothing’s amiss. After only two months it’s difficult to keep fresh eyes for a place that I feel quite at home in. But while I have become spoiled in beautiful scenery, it has allowed me to put down my camera for once and I’m able to enjoy a hot coffee while I sit outside and watch the ice melt.
With two months finished I sit here thinking that the time is passing too quickly. I have only a month left and nights are spent plotting ways to return for another season. It will be hard to leave.