“We had seen God in His splendors. Heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man” – Ernest Shackleton
I want to hear new sounds that could only be heard if you were there
I have a desire to see sights that you’d miss if you blinked
I want to remember the wild life that is all around
I want to be there together
I want to be there alone.
Our trip was not nearly as hardcore as Mr. Shackleton’s was in the early 1900’s. We had all the modern comforts such as wind proof parkers and waterproof boots and pants. We didn’t get stuck in pack ice and never had to resort to eating sled dogs or penguins. My tweed jacket was kept only for dinner at night, not for keeping the arctic wind off my back. We also didn’t try and cross the whole bloody Antarctic via the South Pole. We stuck to a minuscule portion of The White Continent. But even so, it was the largest place I’ve ever seen, and like with so many of the places we have been to before, this was also the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Hands down.
I watch as a snowflake in perfect crystal form nestles in the cracks of my icy cold hands. It wastes no time as it melts right away. I blithe at the sight because I realize I am actually not that cold a person, both physically and in character. Then my eyes flood as heaven opens, showering beautiful hexagonal crystals of snow, changing everything to white. Like a curser erasing a bunch of type written words to reveal a blank white page, the snow covers all, and with it the gentle wind whisper in my ears, “It is OK to cry sometimes. Lets start over, and try again”.
If only we could.
This happens to me when I am in beautiful places. The tears flow from somewhere deep. I can’t truly know why, but maybe it is because of the sudden realization that I am completely and utterly insignificant in relation to the majesty around me. I want to be here but I know I don’t belong here, and even though Antarctica belongs to everyone, no one actually belongs here.
This, truly, is the last frontier on our planet. There are visible secrets that are stacked in the glacial masses of ice, and like a book has a beginning and an end our origins and futures are written in the ice. There is no word invented yet to describe the incredible shades of blue that some of the Icebergs trap within their unique shapes and forms. The millennia of compression and exposure hold streaks of elements ensnared, offering glimpses of – what I think – electricity looks like. The ice holds the color captive until currents and tides take icebergs to far away places where it nourish and replenish what humans exploit and empty.
It is the serenity of Antarctica that make you think of the damage we do to this world. Where few humans tread, you gain insight into what the world once was.
The research and indisputable scientific proof is there my friends, and it hurts. Over the last 100 years the CO2 produced by man is behind an unprecedented rise in temperatures on Earth. Humans are altering the weather patterns through carelessness. When I hold a pure piece of ancient ice in my hands I feel guilty for the years worth of rubbish I have discarded over time. Fill black bag to the brim, use, take and waste. Fill car with petrol and drive when I could have walked. I have seen people in morning traffic alone in their cars going to the same place as the person in front of them. We don’t care. The planet is going to shake off this overpopulated human race like a dog rids itself of fleas. It needs to happen soon, so she can be alone again. Start over.
“Man is never so sublimely in his element than when faced with adversity.”- French Scientist Claude Lorius
It perplexes me how amiable a cold place can make you feel. Outside it is minus five degrees but inside my heart I feel warmer than the sun. The golden morning light shun upon the snow covered peaks enters my eyes and as it hits my optic nerves it stimulates me to the absolute core of my being. I feel highly sentient, here at the very edge of the world. I feel I don’t need anything else than my senses here.
The harsh realities of life are striking here too. Death lurks in as many different forms as the thousands of icebergs floating around. Through my camera lens I watch as a Skua attempts to drown a down covered Adelie Penguin chick. It struggles to keep it underwater, so it just starts pecking into it, eating it alive. This beautiful place will eat you alive. Whalebones are scattered along the pebble beaches, broken up and have long since given back. When will I give back? Penguin carcasses rot along the many penguin highways and old whaling boats resemble cracked ribs as their once strong wooden hulls gets bruised and broken by the extreme elements.
The only way for me to try and relay my view of the incredible beauty of Antarctica is through photography, and even then it won’t give it any justice. Like a wine sommelier would learn appropriate words to describe wines properly, I would first have to go and study a course in “How to explain Antarctic surroundings in words worthy of her mention.”
There were days when it was absolutely silent. Silence so intense I could hear my own heartbeat and my thoughts running wild.
There were days that hardly turned to night, The Sun keeping The Moon from reflecting its light.
There were days when the clouds changed from blue to pink in the early morning light, and there were days when the sky remained grey and ominous.
There were no people and I loved that most.
There was nothing really there.
But there was also so much.
We were there together,
I was there Alone.
Crab eater Seal Bitten by an Orca
Chinstrap Colony, Halfmoon Island
Old whaling boat
Sunrise at Paradise bay
Icebergs have so many interesting forms and shapes
This was the last penguin I saw as we left for the open ocean. He was alone on this massive iceberg.
Sunrise at the Chilean Antarctic Base
Fur Seal in snow
Sunset in Lemaire Channel