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.
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