Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Ache

The Ache

To cross the Drake and head south to the "Freezer" there are good and bad forecasts, weather systems and seas, but when there's ice in the Drake and the fogs low to the sea, it chills your feet, it makes your face numb with the dank cold, your teeth chatter and your jaw aches with looming anticipation.

When the dawn light creeps through the hatch window at 3am you know you are in Antarctica and its summer, the tiredness is still there and the aches of the passage.

But the immense pleasures of being in this white wonderland, where the moods of the mountains and glacier fields can only be described as mystical fantasy lands, but you are there, and it is very real, so fast you have forgotten those aches.

The constant cold temperatures makes the skin on your hands thick, it's your bodies way of building a protective layer, but this takes time to form, and the cold makes you ache.

The stealth ice that creeps around the bays and harbours never stops or eases its search for a calm spot as its life as a piece of ice is limited, the long sleepless nights where your head never rests deeply on the pillow the impact of ice always makes you ache.

The smiles on every person face as they watch in wonder at the great beasts of the water lift their heads to the sky to view us tiny creatures on a boat makes you marvel, enough to make your heart ache.

At the end of the day, as the light dims but never ends in summer Antarctica, you hope and silently prey that the location for the night will be safe and protected, the sinews in your neck always ache.

To see the way that nature's animals survive in the wild, the strong will survive, the slow, sick or weak are on borrowed time, the sight of death tears at your heart, and it aches.

But when the time is done, and the weather gods present a window, there can be no hesitation, the drug of Antarctica when the sun shines is powerful, to leave there are aches, to wait and play will inevitably make you ache far more.

Stephen

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