“At sea and reflecting”

We are well and truly on our way home now, rolling on the swell, and this morning left the last distant sight of icebergs behind us. On reflection now my Antarctic experience already takes on a dream-like quality – so short the number of days on land compared to the sea adventure.

I feel though that I have seen the continent in its two guises: when it is cloudy and blizzardy then I felt an overpowering sadness and a sense of age beyond my comprehension – as though the ancient rocks have been abandoned by the other continents seeking more verdant climes millions of years ago, and Antarctica has been left in a bandwidth beyond the human scale of life, smothered in desolation under extraordinary deep layers to wait or to hold frozen forever; on sunny clear days, beauty sparkles, pastel colours dance reflected, and the splendour of the ice and snow cover has a beguiling seductive smile that makes one blissfully comfortable and at peace with being there on sufferance, a tiny insignificant outsider.

Last night I spent hours gazing through the little hole right in the front of the ship, the place from which I took the icebreaking movie on the voyage out. Sheltered but pitch dark and solitary, I saw the ghostly icy blocks and ‘pancakes’ looming towards us and grinding under the ship, with the 3 search-light beams ahead watching for bergs and  ‘bergy bits’. Mesmerizing, and a magical way to farewell the quiet Antarctic waters. Today has mostly been spent sleeping and reading, although I do confess to a small amount of practice and – writing a small piece inspired by the Mawson Station landscape.


 

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2 responses to ““At sea and reflecting”

  • 3W

    Dear Alice,
    How are you? We have still been looking at all of your comments. We have loved watching all of your videos and really enjoyed listening to the music you have played. We found the full copy of the poem you sent us. It is four pages long. We are doing an assembly item and are using the part of the poem that you sent us. The seal video was really cool. We love the sound of your harp when you are playing it and found it really interesting when the wind was playing the harp. We love how you have described your adventures. We would love to meet you one day and hear you play harp but we know that you live a long way from us. Mrs Moloney is going to bring Kate’s harp in one day so we can have a look at a harp. Thank you for answering our questions and for letting us be part of your adventure. We hope that you have a really good trip back to Australia.
    From 3W

    • alicegiles

      Dear 3W,
      I am very glad you have found my trip interesting. I have put together a sound file of the engine room noises and could send it to you for your presentation once I arrive home if next week is not too late for you. At the moment the ship is making a lot of high pitched wailing noises (actually sounding a bit like whales) as the ballast inside (that keeps us from rolling too much) moves from side to side below us, and displaces or pushes air out as it moves so fast. I will put those sounds up on the site when I get home also. Alice
      (I am sorry this reply didn’t get posted sooner – I sent it back but have just seen that it was missing on the blog. The machine room sounds are up now, and more to follow)

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