Oy! Somehow I made a Post disappear yesterday and the only way to save it was to re-name it as a page. For those of you who are curious, and I hope all of you are, you can back out to the sidebar of the main page and scroll down to where it says Pages and look up the one item listed there for Feb. 16th. I thought it was a nice enough blog, but the two photographs I added are beautiful and well worth looking at. Sorry for the inconvenience, but bilge happens. (Oh man, I have spent too much time around boats…)
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
We are officially into the negative digits with wind chill temperatures. They will likely stay that way now, as the Autumn last about 7 seconds here. And because the season has changed already, the winds are picking up. They are almost constantly blowing; tonight they are a constant 20kph. Now, I am no meteorologist, so I had to Google this to be certain, and I found out that Miles per hour is faster than Knots per hour, although it’s pretty close. The ratio is 1mph = 0.868kph. So at 20kph we are really getting winds at 23.01mph. And if the standing temperature is less than 10’F, those winds make your fingers fall off. We recently had a storm with gusts up to 40kph, but I was at home asleep when they hit.
We are very close now to standing temperatures that stay below zero until next October. And the smiley, happy people who have just arrived on station to start their winter over couldn’t be happier. A large majority of those who have arrived have done this before. They are a different breed than the summer folk like myself. They are not here for the penguins or seals, although the wildlife will be here for a little while longer. They are not here to run the marathon, or cross country ski to the Pole.
These are people who love their solitude and have an intense dedication to their individual efforts. They know that they are in a hazardous work environment and they take all the necessary precautions for their safety. They may or may not be social animals, but they are keenly aware that there are only 150 other people on the base with them for the next 6 months. They better love their jobs. And I would be rude not to mention the 40 souls at the South Pole Station. These folks have very little else to do beyond their work and whatever art they bring with them. And God bless each of them with the ability to be friendly and patient with each other. From personal experience, my family routinely hosts Thanksgiving dinners for more bodies than those who will work at the Pole for the next nine months together. Patience and friendliness only last until the last piece of pumpkin pie is gone. Just kidding.
There is one certain joy to working here through the endless night. I have it on good authority, from my co-worker and friend Deven, who has just concluded his second winter-over, that there are amazing views of the Aurora Australis. Yes, I spelled that right. It’s Borealis upside down. Sort of…Let’s just pretend that it’s the Northern lights in the Southern Hemisphere and call it a night. A very long night.
Of course I’m being silly. There is a touch of light-hearted craziness in everyone I have met down here. It’s the that silliness that keeps them sane under very harsh conditions. I didn’t always have my camera at just the right times to record all of this, but there was the girl who wore a rainbow colored tutu for the marathon. The man from the Galley who wore a Hogwarts’s Sorting Hat, just cause he was bored. The guys who regularly wear their neck gators atop their heads like floppy stove pipe hats. Even my little skull cap. It looks ridiculous, and I would never wear it in public in Denver, but I am never without it here. And that makes me happy because that stupid little hat means my ears will be making it home to Denver with the rest of me.
See you tomorrow.