Evening Descends

I wrote a short story last year by that title, though I have yet to inflict it on any of you (but now that I think about it, maybe I will…). But here it refers to the dying light as the Antarctic winter advances.

The sun will set this weekend and not make an appearance again until August. For the past week or so, we haven’t seen direct light, and what light we do get is often all but obscured by snow clouds or heavy fog. For a couple hours a day, on the brightest of days, we get light that resembles that period of predawn when everything is colored in blues and grays.

As bright as it gets in late April here on Ross Island, Antarctica. Taken in the middle of our "day" and showing McMurdo Hospital. Behind the hospital is Ob Hill, completely obscured by gloom.

To be honest, predawn is one of my favorite times to be outdoors, especially when I’m camping. There is a stillness and solemnity to the light that makes me feel as if I have stepped back in time. Not that I’m outdoors much here anymore. With wind chill factored in, it’s minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit out there right now.

I hope to be venturing outside later today, however, for the field trip I mentioned in my last post. It was postponed a week due to weather (we had a Con2 storm with 96 mph gusts of wind and snow that just slapped you silly if you stuck your head out the door) but it looks like it’s on for tonight. Huzzah! Stay tuned for details.

Until then, for those of you who have asked for some of the more mundane details of wintering over in Antarctica, here are a few shots of my room. Keep in mind that, for all of the summer season, four people lived in this room, more or less harmoniously.

My "harem bed," as one friend calls it. I put two twin beds together to create this monstrous thing. The gray blanket hanging at the foot of the bed is my "room divider" to create a sleeping space that is (kinda) separate from the rest of my palatial estate.

Looking from the southeast corner of the room towards the northwest. All of the extra furniture (two mattresses, nightstands, dissembled bunk bed pieces) are tucked behind the three wardrobes. The gray blanket hanging is, again, my idea of creating a sleeping space that is apart from the rest of the room. I heard it helps people with chronic insomnia. I'll get back to you on that.

The "living room" in the northeast corner of the room, including my proudest piece of interior design. The angular spiral above the chair is made from push pins and a long piece of silver beading I found in skua. Every now and then I completely redo the design (it's been a mountain range and an EKG readout in past weeks).


3 thoughts on “Evening Descends

  1. Thinking of you as dark descends. We are in the southern hemisphere as well and noticed tonight the sun going down earlier. Thankfully our winter is a bit more temperate than yours, and blissfully dry.

  2. The chairs in your room remind me of our furniture in the East Campus suite. And hey, look — there’s a little bit of Pippi in Antarctica!

    Stay sane as the darkness descends!

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