Friday
Nov092007

Karen Joyce: Frozen Hard and Thawed Out

Conditionone A storm has been walloping Antarctica for the past few days. Karen Joyce, intrepid to the end, has ventured out to take this photograph. I wish I’d been there…

The contributors to Antarctica: Life on the Ice lead fascinating lives. From time to time I’ll track them down and find out what they are doing.

Karen, who contributed a hilarious essay, “The Day It Rained Chickens,” to Antarctica: Life on the Ice is currently in McMurdo, as she has been for the past 17 years during the austral summer. She will be joining us live from the Antarctic for our virtual book tour on November 29.

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Wednesday
Nov072007

Antarctic Art

Antarcticaponting300dpiHerbert Ponting is an extraordinary photographer who accompanied Captain Robert F. Scott on Scott's 1910 expedition to the South Pole.  His photographs of the Ice are classics. In the hut at Cape Evans, Antarctica, which I visited, is a small darkroom where he processed his photos. Contemporary photographers have an easier time, technologically, but their photos are no less stunning.  The University of Wyoming and the National Science Foundation have assembled the work of seven artists, including Ponting.  

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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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