Wednesday
Nov072007

'Antarctica: Life on the Ice' Hits the Street!!!

 Antarctica_book_blog_4
Antarctica: Life on the Ice is the just-released anthology that I collected and edited to bring you first-hand stories of those who devote their lives to the most beautiful and cruel environment on the planet -- Antarctica. Inside you will meet explorers, penguinologists, geologists, iceologists, cooks, pilots and others who have been drawn, almost mystically, to life at the bottom of the world.

In the 2004-2005 austral summer, I spent six weeks in the Antarctic as part of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Based at McMurdo Station, I also visited the South Pole, several camps in the Dry Valleys and Cape Royds. When I was a young girl, my father regaled me with stories of the Antarctic. To walk the terrain and visit the outposts of explorers like Scott and Cherry-Garrard was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

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Sunday
Nov042007

Letter from Cape Royds, Antarctica

Penguin2I’m writing from a Rac tent set on Cape Royds half a mile uphill from an Adelie penguin colony. The tent pitches and shakes in the wind of a storm that has kept me tent bound for four days. When I woke at eight in my tent, snow padding the walls, I heard a helicopter, the distinct whop-chop-whop of the bird that will, eventually, haul us out of here. I bolted upright in my sleeping bag and scrambled into clothes and coat in disbelief and, I’ll admit, some excitement. That they could land in such weather (today, 45 mph gusts) seemed amazing. I could barely see the Rac tent from my small camp tent and it stands but fifty yards away. But the helo did not land

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Sunday
Nov042007

What Money Can’t Buy: Christmas in McMurdo, Antarctica

IceIn the holiday spirit I'm offering up this essay I wrote shortly after returning from Antarctica in 2005. Happy Holidays to all.

January 2005, and the wind at Cape Royds on Ross Island, Antarctica, had me pinned inside a Rac tent, with few books I wanted to read, two people I hardly knew, a dwindling food supply, and intermittent satellite access to the internet. When I logged on to see if anyone was missing me, one of those endless internet banners floated across the computer screen: holiday blues? Buy what you really wanted.
    I turned to David, a grey-haired, middle-aged bespectacled penguinologist, and his young, attractive assistant Jen.
    “How did you celebrate Christmas?”

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Sunday
Nov042007

Circling the City

Beachunderbbrdg2_5The night before kayaking around Manhattan I did not sleep. Last year I didn’t sleep either but then I stayed awake because I was sure I was going to die—that the Staten Island Ferry would knock me over in its wake, I’d go over and never surface. This year my mid-night thoughts revolved around the currents and tides. Timing is essential to these trips—if you have the current, it’s do-able, if not, not.

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Sunday
Nov042007

Antarctica, Rhinebeck and Bowermaster

Rhinebeck_7We had our first reading for Antarctica in Rhinebeck’s cosy and wonderful, independent bookstore Oblong. One of the great pleasures of doing these readings is getting to know the writers whose works I’ve read and re-read for months. For this reading that person was adventurer, writer and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster, who is a marvelous, generous storyteller with a wealth of experience in the Antarctic.

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