Our destination for today was not just another colony of penguins. I would discover a mythical, magical place, unlike any that I had ever seen before... Spert Island.
Soon, the captain dropped Sea Spirit's hook, and we boarded our zodiacs for the zodiac cruise du jour. Better than hanging about the boat. I suppose.
|Tim and Winnie in uniform|
A further turn to port side reveals...
Since water's warmer than the air above, ice bergs melt from the bottom up. This ice berg revealed two previous lifetimes on it's right side... first, a melt that let it raise up into the air for 20m (exposing the higher indentation).. next, a chunk must have broken off its side allowing it to tilt to the left... then its current incarnation (the second indentation) occurred due to further melt down below.
Next, we came upon two magnificent pinnacle ice bergs... Beautiful !
I am now in complete sensory overload... the brain can only process so much.
Mette, our zodiac driver, stops the outboard. We all become hushed, listening to the sounds of Spert. Smelling its smells. Getting into touch with our environment.. Maybe getting into touch with ourselves.
I feel a tiny shade of wistfulness colour my thoughts as the zodiac drifts, unpowered. My very best attempts to photograph the unparalleled splendor of this land fall short of the continent's true beauty. Thoughts of family members, friends, and acquaintances cross my mind in these quiet moments... I so wish that they could all see this magical place.. at this very moment... and hear the water lapping at the sides of the boat... see and smell the crystalline clarity of the air about us.
We move on. Ever onward.
We move by the pinnacles and see a possible opening between more bergs...
Each turn brings a new vista...
as we approach...
Each of these calved bergs represents the death knell for some glacier. Glaciers are born when a few flakes of snow fall in the Antarctic mountains. These snow flakes become packed down by the weight of a millenia of snowfalls, and are compressed into a river of solid ice. This glacier may take 10,000 years or more to succumb to gravity, advancing ever so slowly toward the ocean, where chunks as large as office buildings yield and break off the face of the glacier. Some will become grounded in shallower water and live a long time in the colder climes. Others will drift to the ocean to wander it's currents, finding the warmer water of the Antarctic convergence where they melt and die. The water eventually evaporates, to be taken back into the atmosphere where it will begin its life cycle once again as another bit of light snowfall in the Antarctic mountains. The continent breaths like a living being. It inhales in the winter, the ice doubling the continent's size. In the summer the continent exhales and sighs, melting sea ice and calving glaciers, and shrinking once again.
I love icebergs, even though their sheer immensity and long lives make me feel a bit... insignificant?
I break on through... the doors of perception. I'm seeing a side of this tiny blue planet, and a side of life that I've never personally seen before. I ponder at that which I see and think is real, and wonder if others in the boat see the same thing?
It finally occurs to me. It's not what you look at, it's what you see. In icebergs. And in life.
|Sometimes you just can't get through.|
Survival. I am thankful for it.
|Sometimes, you can.|
Props. The renewable resource... on the Sea Spirit anyway.
Shunning the blue ice, I harvest some white ice. For later.
The storm petrel. I can see the fear of the coming storm on Mette's face, and can imagine it on Pam's face. There IS a storm coming back aboard the Sea Spirit for Pam and Mette. Where had the time gone? Didn't anyone need to get back to the boat for sustenance? Or to pee?
I am changed.
I have a new perspective about myself, and my relative significance to global order or chaos. I can continue to be part of the problem. Or strive to be part of the cure.
That's why I'm writing this.
(As an aside, later, at de-briefing, tiny bubbles of air, tens of thousands of years old, are released as the ice melts in my drink. I breath in antiquity, as I sip my Scotch. The storm is probably over. Life is good again, for all. As it should be.)