my trip to the Antarctica and the South Pole

Sunday, April 17, 2005



<> It has been weeks since sunset and I just saw my first stars tonight. It was a cool feeling. I was walking out to one of the telescope buildings that is about a half mile from the main station. This walk is an interesting thing. I usually walk it solo, and with my ipod playing some tunes or NPR. It's a very solitary and thoughtful walk, usually, because you're so bundled up, that you feel separate from the world around you, although it affects you in pretty big ways, such as making you very cold, and tripping you up because the snow formations are getting so high and random. Plus, it's very surreal because you're just walking into white nothingness all by yourself. It's not quite like walking around somewhere normal, because you can't really interact with your environment. One second out of my double gloves w/double hand-warmers and I can feel my fingers start to freeze. One gap in my neck warmer/hat/goggles ensemble and I have frost-nip. Anyway, that's the scene. It's a surreal, solo journey in vast nothingness to get to the telescope.

I look out and see two parkas walking my way. The people don't get close enough to talk, or even for me to figure out who they are (although we're all getting better at identifying people by their walk), but we exchanged a silent gloved wave as we passed in the bleakness. I always feel like there's more than a normal greeting exchanged by waves when you're outdoors here. It's like an understanding is also communicated, because there you both are, in this most strange of worlds, freezing your butts off together, and you wave because that's about all you can do. Even if you could talk, you couldn't see eachothers faces, and there aren't exactly park benches for just sitting around chatting. Anyway, then I looked further to my right and saw two more bundled figures. This is like Grand Central for the South Pole outdoors. These other two hooded faces were looking upwards. I did to. And there were the first stars I've seen in three months. There were a few of them, actually, forming the beginnings of some unknown southern hemisphere constillation. I had seen Jupiter on the horizon a few days ago, but that was just a planet---a cheating kind of star because they're so bright. These were my first twinkling specks of light, and they were gorgeous. I felt like all of us staring up at that moment, spread apart by too much distance to yell across to eachother, were all smiling under our face masks at the new beauties in the sky. I certainly was.


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