The 20 Things I’ve Missed Most Wintering in Antarctica

Yes, I’m sticking with this whole “20 20-item lists in my last 20 days on Ice” concept, until either I get bored or, thanks to T3 Polar Madness, I forget.

Today is my day off, by the way, and before sitting down to write this, I wandered out to the dark edge of town to watch the last full moon of my stay in Antarctica slip behind the mountains.

Moonset, 1015 local time, 03 August 2012.

20. The Discovery Channel. I hate missing Shark Week. Again.

19. Road trips.

18. Magazines. I can’t help it. I love flipping through magazines. And I’ve read all the ones we have down here.

17. Good cheese. I’m not cheese snob (well, maybe a little), but there’s a reason the huge bags of grated, flavorless, bright orange, mass-produced dairy product that we get are labeled “for institutional use only.”

16. Sunlight. Yeeeeeaaaah…okay. Maybe just a little. I like the darkness and have not experienced any of the depression that others suffer from lack of light, but I’m not dreading the sun’s return, either. And I wouldn’t mind feeling its warmth on my skin again. Or having a reason to wear my awesome $5 Victoria Beckham knockoff sunglasses.

15. Cute shoes. Yes, between the ground-up volcanic rock we use instead of road salt, the ice and the snow, there is zero reason to totter about in any of my six-inch platform heels, or even my cute but fragile suede flats.

14. Seeing new things. Don’t get me wrong, I love Antarctica and I love the landscape that never changes. But I also wouldn’t mind going to a museum and marveling at the textures of paint on a canvas or the curve of a fossilized jaw bone, going shopping and feeling the fabrics of the season’s latest maxidresses or trying on a new lipstick, walking through a new park or doing something, anything, that I haven’t done in the past six months.

13. Seasonal produce. I like marking the seasons by what I eat. I like sales based on what local farmers have the most of at the moment. I like the anticipation of waiting for asparagus and tomatoes and blueberries until they’re “in.”

12. Pho. Aloo Saag. Samosas. Frozen custard. Braunschweiger. A Dark ‘n’ Stormy with good rum. Not all at once, obviously, but I do miss a few random food and drink things that either we don’t have here or, despite fellow cooks’ best attempts, aren’t quite the same.

11. Grocery shopping. One of my regular customers on the morning egg line lamented last month that he dreaded leaving the Ice because then he’d have to buy his own groceries and feed himself. Uhm. Are you kidding me? I love grocery shopping. I love finding seasonal deals, buying a vegetable I haven’t tried before (or don’t like) and figuring out what to do with it, choosing what kind of fish I want, figuring to the penny the best deal on paper towels.

10. Taking a meeting over coffee. Or wine. Yes, sitting down, having a proper latte or opening a bottle, and just talking. Not gossiping, just talking, whether it’s getting tips from a fellow indie author or venting to a friend about career choices.

9. My stuff. I know, “the best things in life are not things.” While that may be true, I miss my Dagestani carpets, my Weinachtsmarkt Christmas ornaments, my awesome floor-scraping skirts and cool jackets and my Amish country rocking chair with bite marks from two puppies who teethed on it before growing up, growing old and passing on.

8. Smells of the great outdoors. Pine trees. Flowers. Rainstorms. Fresh cut grass. Briny ocean air. Lemon trees. Okay, I don’t get to smell much ocean air or lemon trees in Wisconsin, but the absence of smell here can be oppressive.

7. Cooking for myself. I know, I cook six days a week, how could I possibly miss it? Well, I have to follow the menu here, which means a lot of Shrimp Gumbo and Tater Tot Casserole and Beef Fajitas and other stuff I don’t eat. Plus cooking for 153 is a different undertaking than making myself a perfect little bowl of veggies and udon. Oh, udon. Sigh. Soon, udon, soon.

6. Someplace to swim. Lap pool, lake, doesn’t matter. I miss swimming.

5. Domestic animals. No offense to human readers of this blog but…I miss our four-legged friends. I love dogs. I love cats. I…uhm…have nothing against birds and fish and ferrets and snakes and guinea pigs, though they are not quite as awesome as dogs and cats.

4. Real, organic milk and yogurt. Our dairy is powdered, generic, institutional stuff that gets reconstituted. I don’t think I need to say anything more on the matter.

3. Rain. Yes, I’m sure a lot of you in the States are saying “yeah, I miss rain, too.” I’d take a misting, a downpour, a proper thunderstorm, a spritz, any of it, right about now.

2. Walking. I love to walk, and, while I can do it here if the weather is right, I can’t walk as far as I’d like and the surface is often a bit treacherous. But oh, to be in New York and hoof it from Chinatown to Morningside Heights, as I often did when I lived there, or to go to London and walk from Hampstead Heath to the British Museum and back over the course of a day. Or even to spend a couple hours rambling through the Seminary Woods in Milwaukee, or along the Lakefront.

1. Fresh raw baby spinach leaves. In the real world, I eat an alarming amount of them on a daily basis. I believe the spinach industry has taken quite a hit since I’ve been down here.

You may be thinking “humph, she didn’t say anything about missing friends/family/me.” What can I say. With Facebook and other social media, I don’t feel like I’m that far away from you, and you’re all spread out all over the world, anyway. And I really, really love spinach.


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