Bad Dirt

John Jacobsen
Saturday, January 27, 2007

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Earlier post The Last Laugh southpole

Later post Pole Bound southpole

Annie Proulx has two collections of short stories set in Wyoming. The second is titled Bad Dirt. They are gritty, dark, full of sumptuous detail and compelling characterization. If she were to write stories about McMurdo, I would pick them up in a heartbeat. Some of the craggy, dust-spattered characters here could have come straight out of her stories.

But that’s neither here nor there. The big news for the day is: the second set of pictures is up! And, for your entertainment, I’ll post and annotate a few of them here as well, starting with…

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Figure 1: Interior of “Futuro” flying saucer house by Matti Suuronen, in Christchurch Botanical Garden.

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Figure 2: Very large tree in the Botanical Garden. Note diminutive figure of author at base of tree for scale.

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Figure 3: The next stage of our commute from Christchurch to Antarctica: a ride in a C-17 flown by the New York Air National Guard.

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Figure 4: Arrival at Pegasus field.

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Figure 5: En route to McMurdo from Pegasus, we see a C-130 landing at Willi Field. Note picturesque exhaust clouds.

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Figure 6: Running water alongside the streets of McMurdo. Temperatures have been in the 30s up to 40F here.

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Figure 7: Fish in the Crary Lab aquarium at McMurdo Station. Note open mouth in bottom right image.

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Figure 8: Catching my own reflection in window Scott’s Hut at Hut Point.

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Figure 9: Hundreds of seals dot the sea ice around McMurdo - this group is outside Scott Base (the New Zealand base near McMurdo).

These are only a sample - have a look at the rest.

The morning’s adventures consisted of missing breakfast, walking out to Hut Point to look for penguins (no joy), and then getting our safety briefing for recreational travel around the station (i.e. the walk to Castle Rock, which I’ve never been able to do). After lunch and a nap, I jogged a few hilly kilometers to Scott Base. After McMurdo went out of earshot around the hill behind me, it became utterly silent. Just me, the dirt, Scott Base and the sea ice below, and Erebus to the north, emiting it’s white puff of volcanic breath. The only disturbance in the air was a faint, silent breeze. Strange to be in such a big space, as big a space as I’ll ever find, probably, with no sound at all but my own breath and heartbeat. We are never truly silent until we take our last breath.

Earlier post The Last Laugh southpole

Later post Pole Bound southpole

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