Gold, silver and the "A" factor

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This week at Mawson: 7 March 2014

It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s cloudy and isolated. It’s Mawson.

These sorts of statements are usually associated with misery and glumness of the soul. Well, these are a constant down here in our little piece of Antarctica. Not only do we deal with the worst Mother Nature can throw at us, but also we deal with circumstances born of cosmic gremlins. This Antarctic season has been one of tireless flexibility both in program timelines and in mental resilience. We call this the ‘A factor’.

Many a flamboyant poem, equally colourful expressions and heated discussions have been laid before an audience of subzero believers. The A factor is an intangible force that plays a role in our everyday existence upon the ice. It’s a force that allows the creation of precious metals such as gold and silver. Silver in the lining that emanates from almost any anything you allow your mind to gaze upon, and gold from the people it subsequently creates.

Icy News (This week at Mawson) is one of many media that allow the outside world to gaze at a life lived at the bottom of our globe. It’s also an opportunity for those who call the ‘Red Shed’ home, to tell friends, loved ones and interested minds, just what life is like on a week to week basis.

One rarely talked about aspect of station life, is just what the vibe on station is like or what exactly everybody is talking about around the breakfast/smoko/lunch/dinner table.

In recent times the shifting goal posts and ramifications of unforeseen circumstances in the Australian Antarctic program have meant that gas bagging about due dates and chin wagging on the subject of Status Limbo has consumed much of our communal time.

So here we are as a station, looking at a home return in early May after an extended expedition in one of the harshest places on earth. Which brings me back to the silver and gold. Should my fellow Antarctic colleagues have not been so carefully selected, the ‘A factor’ may not have shown it’s alchemist qualities. At every turn I find a friend with a heart of gold, I find a landscape festooned with silver and beauty, and I find a supportive community back in Australia who through a medium such as the weekly station news and Facebook (@ Mawson Station Antarctica) make the experience of living and working in Antarctica a meaningful and rewarding one.

As the silvered winds abated and clouds of a white lustrous sheen moved offshore, a day was spent riding the waves of transcendence in a surreal environment that will never let go its grasp on my heart filled with memories of the good people of Mawson station.

Aqua waters and pure white bergs
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Penguin rookery on island
Penguin paradise
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
a berg left in the wake
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Streaks of white clouds of intense blue and green water.
The silver lining
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Boating at Mawson amongst the small rocks and bergie bits in still water.
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Boating at Mawson among the bergie bits and rocks in very still water
Serenity 2, the sequel
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
High cloud streak across the sky while the water below is still and calm.
High winds, calm seas
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Rookery Island covered in white bird faeces and two figures standing and studying the island.
Rookery Island
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
White bergs floating in glassy calm water.
Sea of tranquility
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Bergs and Islands where birds love to hang out.
Bergs and bird havens
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Photos taken from a distance - the red boat looks tiny amongst the rocks and ice bergs.
Just a spit in a great big ocean
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Boating at Mawson on a sunny, glassy calm day.
It doesn't get much better than this
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Two small boats streaking across the still sunny waters amongst the ice bergs.
Or does it?
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Red inflatable boats with three expeditioners on board.
Heading home
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Boating at Mawson with bergs in the backgrounds.
Whew! What a day!
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
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