Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Antarctica dreaming.

My old college friend Randy recently fulfilled a longtime dream by taking a boat to Antarctica. He gave me permission to publish this photo, which suggests something of the otherworldliness of this landscape.

I have had a long romance with the idea of cold, polar places. It stretches back to reading the biographies of polar explorers in my family's Childcraft volumes, which I read assiduously far longer than I should have. I checked out children's biographies of Amundsen, Peary, and Byrd from my library. This romance stretched into adulthood, though I added on a wing to it with an interest in Himalayan landscapes, and another special room in the romance for Alaska and the northern parts of Canada.

My friend's trip has made me think about the imagination's landscapes. Why would I, a girl who spent most of my growing up years in desert places, find an imaginary home at the poles? Why would I be drawn to the freezing stories of those explorers?

I'm thinking of the places in which I most like set my life's future story: the gorgeous wild coast of northern California; southern Europe; Alaska. What dimension of each--the bare wreckage of long-gone industries, and the smash-rock sea; the idea of fields of lavender; a map made of rivers and forests--ignites my dreams, catches my heart?


  1. I too am obsessed with exploration. I wrote a story about an explorer who was on trips to both the North and South Poles. It's called "Ice."
    Did you see the IMAX about Antartica? There was footage from people diving into icebergs. It was so cool.

  2. I share your poetic sensibilty with snowy climes. If winter were free, I'd wish we had it all year round. As it is winter pinches my Scottish heart (pocketbook) so I despise it. My liking of darkness, cold and snowing does have something to do with my genetics, I think: Scoto-norwegian, mostly.

    I would have accompanied Amundson on his Antartic expedition. I would have scoffed at Scott and his silly English ways.

  3. Oh an no fair writing such a poetic post in the SWC!

  4. Something amazingly beautiful yet foreboding in that type of landscape. The recent film, March of the Penguins, had me thinking about cold climates: icy blue beauty but also potentially deadly as the two guys filming get lost for 5 hrs or so in a storm even though they are less than a mile away from camp.

  5. My Pops has been promising to take me to Antarctica for a few years now, but I don't think it'll ever happen...especially after the Taiwan trip. I think that would make a great article, or story, or essay, or something. Father and Son go to Antarctica on a boat, looking for...what exactly...ice? Hm. Makes me want to watch John Carpenter's finest movie, the Thing.

  6. I hate ice and the snow and the cold and right now sitting in my cold apartment that hasn't had heat for three days (cry for me now) all of these things seem even more unappealing, but I really, really want to go to Antarctica.



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