This week at the station
This week at Casey: 28 June 2013
This week we celebrated the winter solstice with a midwinter dinner amongst other things. This celebration has a significant history behind it reaching as far back as the first group of explorers to experience a winter in the Antarctic. We received over 30 invitations to other midwinter celebrations from more than 10 countries with bases in Antarctica, each invite with its own bit of personality and flair. As tempting as some were, we all “decided” to stay in and celebrate here at Casey. Dress was formal for some, less formal for others. Mood was cheerful for all and after weather delayed our midwinter swim we were ready for a bit of excitement.
We did pause a moment to remember the Canadian aircrew who perished this year in the Twin Otter as well as those before them who lost their lives in this harsh environment. And then we honoured them with festivities they all would have appreciated. Food started arriving at the table around 4pm and didn’t stop until after 10pm with 12 courses total to enjoy. This day was an easy victory for the chef (and so close to the monthly weigh-ins, oh no).
With our bellies full of Scotty’s delicious creations we exchanged gifts. There was an amazing amount of effort put into the “secret Santa” exchange and the skills of some of these guys were on full display. It was a great night overall. It was a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished so far, and a night on which we could start to look forward to warmer weather and longer days. I felt proud to be a part of this group, indebted to those who paved the way for us to have this opportunity, and I also felt very, very full! The chatter slowly quietened and everyone drifted off to their rooms, probably thinking as I was: half-way there.
The weather finally gave us a break, and we were able to take our swim on Sunday 23 June. The digger and chainsaw did well to make the hole for us, then we dropped the ladder in the icy blue abyss!
'The ice that is here, which blew out before,
has now been cut out, with a chain-saw,
the wind was then gone, the temperature rose,
then we jumped in, and we all froze,
the water looked blue, almost warm for a bit,
'till you jump in, and scream "this is it"
the ladder is there, climb it to leave,
or be like Salinas, and walk on water if you believe,
whilst under the water, I think that I saw,
a dark entrance to the sea ice, I wanted to explore,
I felt a yank on the rope, it was enough to make me,
leave this beautiful place, before I would freeze.'
The midwinter festivities at Casey started with midwinters day on Friday and officially ended on Sunday evening with an outdoor screening of the 1982 film 'The Thing'. Although Antarctica is renowned for its harsh weather, especially during the winter months, we were blessed with a clear night - only a very light breeze and a 'super moon', the closest full moon of 2013. The screen was carved out of a large snowdrift on the western end of the green store using a bobcat as well as some snow saws and shovels for the finishing touch. The communications department supplied the projector, computer and speakers and some willing participants dragged some comfortable chairs from the red shed. Over half of the station turned up with several tonne of goose down and hot chocolate to keep warm then enjoyed a gorgeous winter night and a very appropriate film.
And now for something completely different
Everyone agrees that a winter in Antarctica is an amazing experience. However 'everyone' would be lying if they told you that it's always easy with plenty of things to occupy your mind whilst you are so far away from home. So to combat this, expeditioners must come up with some alternative methods to entertain and occupy themselves. Recently a friend of mine from Sydney, NSW started a radio show on 2SSR FM (The Sound of the Sutherland Shire) and as an answer to 'What to do on a Monday evening?'. A few of us at Casey have been kicking back in the library and streaming the show online. Not only is it a good opportunity to relax in a different setting and allow us to hear some new music, but it gives us a small taste of home, and most importantly it has giving Mike S. what he always wanted - a song dedication.