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.