Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beyond your grave

I wonder if we will ever stop talking about what might have been. What could have been, and those stolen moments briefly found. This is not some huge gaping wound, merely a papercut that gets found when you squeeze the lime in your Mexican beer.

I took a long walk today. The weather is exceptionally warm and beautiful, and I surely would feel like more of heel if I did not take full advantage of a glorious day. So I did what any proud Antarctican would do. I grabbed a nalgene, and made myself a 36oz bloody Mary, packed up a bendy straw with a monkey, packed up some pickled garlic and a monkey toothpick, grabbed the camera, and went for a walkabout.

This is the first time this whole season I have scrambled up to Roll Cage Mary. I usually try to visit once a week, but obviously that has been in previous seasons, and before the fracture on my foot starting complicating my life. I managed to scramble up the hill with lots of panting, but little pain. I was presented with the endless white horizon.

I sat on the rocks with the virgin, and broke out the blood Mary and subsequent accessories. I sat in the sun and listened to some industrial tunes, while watching the Oden and the Gianella off load fuel at the ice pier. The Gianella is our fuel tanker, the Oden is our icebreaker. My monkeys had a hard time staying afloat in the nalgene, but it amused me greatly to have shiny objects that the nesting Skua's did not. I noted that they were eyeballing my bloody Mary with conspiratory little eyes.

I finally decided I needed more sun, so I scampered down the hill in another direction. I hit one of the little bowl areas that pucker that particular area of the hill/mountain. I saw the Skua well before it landed on the ice in front of me. Just the same, Skua's are big, and they are more than a little aggressive. I was rather surprised such a large bird was able to land on such thin ice, and I do believe the bird was rather alarmed as well. Needless to say, while it was busy posturing for me, it was having a hard time keeping in the upright and locked position. I opted to stand there and watch it, because I was sure at any given moment the bird would fall through the ice, and into the shallow pool below him. No such luck in the end, but it was interesting through the camera lens he looked like he was walking on water.

He finally flew off, and yes, I did not try to walk past the bird as it was blocking my path. First off, kicking one like a football is a 20k fine, and you would get voted off the island. Secondly, I have respect for the birds, because I know if it was really bent on it, it could kick my bloody Mary drinking ass. I have been attacked by these birds before and I think Alfred Hitchcock was on to something with making a horror movie about birds. I would say obviously he had a Skua run in, but I doubt it very seriously. He was just a disturbed man.

I started to finish my descent of one hill, so I could start climbing the other, when the smell of horses hit me. Scott's hut at Hut Point. A stark, if not startling reminder of how harsh the continent can be, and how horribly wrong things can go with the wrong management at the helm. I find the various huts to be a rather somber reminder. Namely because I cannot fathom how they thought coming down here was a good idea in the first place, but then continued to try and traverse this white wilderness. These people that explored and died here, I'm not sure if I'm impressed or if I think they were fools. Even with our technology this place can be dangerous fairly quickly, without the technology, I would say suicidal. Anyway, I digress. The smell of the horses is like a kick to my gut. The smell is strong, and gives me an amount of anxiety I cannot really explain. Under normal circumstances I would find the smell pleasant, and a reminder of youth and my fondness for riding horses. Here, I find it unsettling. Perhaps it is because there are no real smells here, much less an animal that you can smell. Not to mention an animal that has not been on this continent in a very long time. Something that does not belong here. Something that was never meant to be here.

I scampered up Hut point to the cross, and sat in the sun listening to the ice cracking below. You can hear it when the water surges, and it can be very loud. I find it to be a certain kind of music to my ears. Something that I have only heard here. I drank a toast, and eventually determined that I should get down the hill. I cruised around the hut, and took in the oozing seal. Yep, he oozes. He was killed, and left out oh so long ago. In his decay, his fat has slowly been oozing during the summer season. No ripe to the fella, just ooze. I took a few photos of him for Jaret, and while in my view finder there was no shadow, there was shadow that must have been mine, that appeared in the pictures themselves. I'm not convinced it was my shadow, considering I had gone to huge efforts to get make sure I was not leaving any shadow in the frames, but I was the only person standing there. Does not belong here.

The long walk home was good, and it was nice to be able to wear my hair down, without it blowing all over hell and creation. Being in the sun today definitely was not a bad thing.

I got in, and cranked the heat up. I really had not realized how cold my body had gotten. I found a friend on line, who had some exciting news. I wish that I could be a little more excited. I wish that our last conversation had gone differently. Or I wish that perhaps this news could have waited to let the last conversation settle a bit. Either way, it made me feel like the shadow that showed up in my pictures at the hut had taken substance in my stomach. Not meant to be here.

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