The Winter Begins

Photos from UAB in Antarctica group on Flickr, related to this post
By Maggie
Posted on 04/27/10

I think it is safe to say winter is here to stay!  Air temps have been remaining in the 20s allowing the recent snowfalls to accumulate rather than melt.  Palmer and vicinity is so pretty now adorned in their polar parkas.

   The sailing of the Gould with the summer crew marks the beginning winter according to the Palmer calendar as the winter crew now is in residence.  It was a partly cloudy morning as we hugged and shared farewells with the summerovers in the frigid air, the rays of beaming sun beckoning them to the north in search of warmth, longer days, and new adventures.  Their final days, the turnover, outlasted some of the freshies the new crew arrived with and about which I last wrote.  The single case of bananas for 60-some people went fast!  At least we still have some fresh salad greens. 

   That night was a stellar clear 16 degrees Fahrenheit and it was much too calm to resist my desire to sleep outside.  The moon out-beaconed  technology and I did not use a flashlight as I trudged through the now deep snow to my long neglected outdoor room.  As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Mother Nature had been busy redecorating my room with boulder-to-boulder powder white ‘carpeting.’  This was by far the coldest night yet for my new bag and me but I stayed quite toasty watching the twinkling of Sirius, the brightest star in the southern sky and counting the stars in the Milky Way rather than sheep. 

   Predawn I awoke to the sight of a giant candle glowing white against the black sky.   Well that’s what my groggy brain first thought seeing a far-off iceberg, straight-sided - sort of like a rounded capital letter L.  The upright portion was spot lit by the burgeoning east light.  All was calm, crisply cold and I so hoped the winds would remain calm and greedily hoped too for a sunny day. 

   Since we seem to be in the habit on naming icebergs this year, I christen that far off candle berg Aladdin. My gazing at it must have rubbed some magic somewhere as my wish of a calm AND sunny day was granted!

  Chuck and Kate were scheduled for a dive in the early afternoon.  Before heading to the divesite Alan joined tender Jason and me on a brief detour to photo a stunning iceberg grounded between two islands a brief boat ride from Harrold Bergmann, Arthur Harbor’s resident berg Kate introduced in a previous entry. 

   My images at right do not due justice to this massive masterpiece of ice – polished and gleamingly smooth in spots like onyx chess pieces I’ve played with – one spot on the top one of the walls even looked like a rook.  Maybe I was predisposed to imagine that form as Alan had dubbed this beauty Castleberg.  The hues of blues and whites were endless as were the carvings of projections suggesting gargoyles in the sculpting, freeform arches and windows, down to the massive round toes at the base manicured into shape as the ice heaved up and down with the tide or surge and the water channeled off. 

   We zoomed back to station to pick up divers Kate and Chuck and off we were to Cormorant Island, one of the most distant sites from station but still within our allowed boating range.  Flat calm, super clear water greeted us. Though mostly in the shade of the island, at times the tenders did find themselves squinting into the glare of the sun to follow the divers’ bubbles.  An unusual addition to tending as of late, but it was not really unwelcome having the sun on our face! 

   Back on station awhile later, a pretty sunset framed Castleberg just as the still nearing full moon began to peek above the glacier behind the station.  It rose to full gleaming glory against a pastel sky.  Breathtaking!

   Clouds rolled in later in the evening, maintaining temps in a balmier 20 degree range.  The morning sky behind Harrold shimmered silver as the moon set behind a veil of clouds.  A gentle snow drifted down as the morning light seeped through and it was obvious that we were not in for a day of sunshine but another more typical winter day at Palmer Station.  That in and of itself is just typically perfect for me. 

 

Comments

  1. Re: The Winter Begins
    Posted by Terri Schoenrock on 04/28/10

    It sounds beyond breathtakingly beautiful. I would love to see it some time.

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