Saturday, March 7, 2009

shuffleboard, Scott Hut, Fauna Morgana, Singing Ice and the death of an Adelie

Stayed up last night until WAY past my bedtime (12:15am) to learn a new game: Shuffleboard. Good game and lots of fun with the people down here. It is like the shuffleboard you see on cruise ships that all the old folks play, but here it is a smaller version on a table top at hip height. I can't believe the combined word of "shuffleboard" and "fun" are coming out of my mouth.
Took a tour of Scott Hut today with 7 others. The hut was a testament to sheer determination to live as long as possible in the harsh Antarctic conditions. Scott and his men embarked on a journey to travel from the edge of Ross Island inland on the Terra Nova route to get to the pole. Alas their journey ended in privation and death when they were relegated to the edge of the ice and did not get rescued in time.
The hut, however was actually the least interesting to me. The day had started out gray and overcast with inversion clouds but had become a glorious basking in the sun and lack of wind. It was possible to hear the ice sing from the point above Scott Hut as the ice plates rubbed and pressed against one another, squeeking, groaning and whistling in a manner like whale song that ebbed and rose in musical cadence. A Weddell seal came out of the ice at the bottom of the drop off (about 25’feet away), and wandered about on the ice. The air was so still you could hear him breath and scrunch along the ice surface – like tissue paper crumpling. There was a fauna morgana (an ice mirage) – a hazy vision hovering just above the ice across the Ross Sea at the foot of Mt Discovery and Mt Morning – three pyramids and a sun, very clearly defined and having that same surreal quality as a heat mirage in the desert. At the end of this grand trip, I stopped to check on the little Adelie that is moulting by our water intake near the water treatment plant. I got within 6’ before the penguin even noted me, and it seems the wrong time of year for a moult as she/he is likely to get trapped by the ice. Penguins are also like most other social animals – when they are not well or nearing death, they will segment themselves away from others, and I think this is what is happening to our little water plant Adelie, which is sad to see, but also part of the bigger cycle of life.


  1. It sounds beautiful in a very wild and primitive way. Remember that Flip we sent with you, we'd love to live vicariously through it :) Sad about the Adelie, but I completely understand the who cycle of life thing. How amazing to be down there where the wildlife manages itself rather than here, where we think we have to manage wildlife. Let's keep those tree-hugging, bunny-lovin' Boulderites off the ice so that never changes. Hmmm...hope that makes sense.

  2. Please, please, please will you take some pictures?! I'm dying to see! You sound well and am glad to hear it! We sure do miss you!

  3. Hey Kai! We have been keeping track of you - the boys brag about their Auntie Kai at the southpole! It's so cool to hear you describe this adventure! It's almost like being there, but I will have to be much older before I can go - maybe too old to get paid, but I can at least go and sight see! Have you heard from mom? I can't seem to get in touch with her and Charmaine is calling all worried - you know her. The boys got medals at the Karate Regional Tournament this weekend - Cody Gold in Form and Kiefer Bronze in Sparring! It was great! Gotta go to church now but will check your blog later for more from the end of the earth!

  4. Hi. It is also cold and snowy up here in Co. We had a foot of snow two days ago. Your irises are loving the moisture. They are all up and peeping thru the snow. All 4 to 6 inches high. Totters loves the snow. (except when it was 12 inches deep. Gave her cause for some concern then. Am moving along toward the great event of the year. Tel and Jay are so busy. Can't do much withthe yard yet till the snow melts. But I'll get it done. Don't worry. Love, Annie

  5. Hey Kai! Just touching base from Louisiana. Paul cooked 18 sacks of crawfish yesterday at the Crawfush Cookoff and, as usual, tried something new. He added deer sausage to one boil - to die for - and fresh sliced pineapple - getting people to try it was the trick, but once they did most wanted more, more, more! It was akin to hot and sour soup - spicy, tangy and sweet all at once - yumm! He didn't win anything this year, but everyone told us his crawfish was the best, so he was happy. The boys were his "Super Scoopers" and I got everyone beer/wine/soft drinks as needed. It was great fun and considerably cooler than last year. The dog is folding into the family life - few bumps and bruises, but Jake is learning what he can and can not get his giagantic nose and paws into, and where he can and can not poop. The boys are in baseball again. Cody plays 1st and center field (kid pitch), Kiefer plays 2nd and pitcher (coach pitch). Since they are on completely different schedules, I am at the field every night, but I get to see every practice and every game, so it's all good! It's going to be hard to go to work tomorrow and get the kids to school. We have had a really great time off this week and can't wait for summer. Love your pic - keep on posting! Will check in with you later! Hugs, Chris