The passage of time on an Antarctic station, and unfinished projects.

The end is nigh

Well there is a statement that needs to be put into context!

The end of our Antarctic season is rapidly approaching, which is not the same as Armageddon, but it is an end and it often arrives suddenly.

This is not my first season in Antarctica, or even my first winter, and no two trips on the ice are the same. But the end of the season seems to have a familiar beat.

Again, the weeks have flashed past and all of a sudden, the Station Leader is using words like, 'resupply' and 'handover'. How can this be? Mid-winter feels just like yesterday and how can they be talking about a return date?

Reality (the one everyone else lives in), is starting to intrude in our station plans and conversation. Plans for home, jobs, holidays and travel, creep into morning chatter. It is in those conversations that I realise that I have three projects to finish, still have hundreds of pictures that need sorting and putting into the “My Antarctica Adventure” album and OMG where did I put my passport.

Like all end of season activities it will be ordered and planned and everything will go well. Even the resupply will be smooth and all RTA will be loaded. Excuse me while I dash away and catch my flying pig…

Often our season ends abruptly. A weather front will approach and a decision is made to depart at short notice. We will catch the next vehicle heading off station and that is that. The new crew will get on with learning the station and those of us leaving will wonder where the time went. If we are lucky enough to be returning by ship we will have time to reflect on our winter and prepare for the speed and dash of modern society. Those who fly home will be going from a top speed of 30km/h to light speed in the space of a day.

The sense of loss and finality can be profound and the knowledge that we are again part of the commuting masses, a little disappointing.

So, we are still here, the world turns, the sun will rise, but the end is nigh.

William (Bill) Santalab