Addendum: the video with the song described in this blog entry is inserted at the end of the entry. I couldn’t add it due to poor bandwidth way back when, and only now am adding it. But please read the description first. After reading the entry a year later, I realize just how much of my mind I was losing down there. Thanks for reading, enjoy!….
Another day I wait to get out to this place they call WAIS DIVIDE. A place I’ve been preparing for and thinking about and building an excitement for now for months. I have enjoyed my time here in McMurdo, believe me, I’ve gotten to know it and become comfortable here. I’ve figured out where all the exits from my dorm that’s centrally located dump out into the little town, something that baffled me my first few days. Walking Highway 1 down the main building I see familiar faces, friends I’ve made through the weeks I’ve been here, had drinks with, had meals with, who lovingly tease “you’re still here??”. While they are all great and I look forward to reuniting with many when I return, it’s the idea of the close friendships at camp that drew me to taking this position. The co-workers who I plan to spend days and nights with, breakfast, lunch and dinner with, who I might think I can’t spend one more moment with but know I’ll miss to pieces when I leave. For those of you who know me, I collect friends and cherish each one. And these friends will have shared something with me, the experience I have been looking so forward to, the unknown, the challenges of a “harsh continent” in camping for three months on a remote ice sheet.
Someone recently shared with me a recording that was made last year my a grad student out at WAIS who was experiencing the same challenges as I am now with the planes and the weather getting in the way of his destination. Although he is trying to return. I’d share the video but the bandwidth of McMurdo stands in the way. So, as I plan to do with my words over the next couple months, I will describe it to you.
The singer of this song is a youngish guy, late 20’s maybe, hair a little overgrown, beard equally overgrown. He sits in a bright yellow rac tent like the one I’ll be setting up my little remote medicine clinic in. You can make out a flag outside the tent from the sun casting a shadow, the flag is whipping in the wind. Behind him, docked on a shelf, are short wave radios recharging next to weather gear and clip boards hung up on hooks with data and a large black and white print out of the 7th continent we are all growing to love and be familiar with. There’s another guy behind him who’s hair and beard have clearly been out there a week or two longer than this guy’s. The camper is sitting on a pelican case with his guitar in hand, strumming a few comfortable harmonious chords…
“Woke up this morning
can’t see the horizon
it’s overcast, undercast, cast on the sidelines
and the wind from the north tells me I won’t be leaving here soon.”
He goes on to sing about all the reasons he’s heard about why the planes aren’t flying.
if you please
with your bright sunny days and your bright sunny nights,
oh well nothing can take me away from you if it tried,
Just interrupted by someone surprised to see me who sat down to ask if I knew when I was “heading out to WAIS.” A occurrence, as I mentioned, that happens more times in a day than I can count now. But it’s said with so much love behind it, with an initial excitement like “Hey! I didn’t think I’d see you again” but also with compassion like “You’ll get there soon friend, chin up buckaroo”.
OK – back to the song…
———–PAGE BREAK, AGAIN——–
Wait, sorry interrupted by one of our lead scientists we will be supporting out at WAIS, from Uinv of Washington, “Michelle! You’re still on station! Any idea when you’ll be heading out?” And with my big smile I reply “hopefully soon and you’ll be right behind me on my tail.”
Back to the song…
If you please
My sorry’s Medusa
I’m waiting on Hercules” (i.e. Hercules LC 130 plane)
“In the middle of nowhere
Surrounded by nothing…”
He goes on with a smile and his witty words about what he misses from home, about what he loves about camp…but its clear, as much as he love what awaits him at home, he has grown to love this place he’s stuck in.
“And maybe tomorrow I’ll finally leave this place…
Oh and who am I kidding I’ll see you tomorrow
and the next and the next for all times.”
The rest of the crew of WAIS sitting and laughing around him through the song join in for the last chorus…
“WAIS DIVIDE, WAIS DIVIDE
With your bright sunny days and your bright sunny nights
Oh and nothing can take me away from you if it tried…
————-Page Break, yet again ———-
Another familiar face points at me and laughs as he walks by. No words, just a nod, commonly acknowledging that yes… I’m still here, AKA the girl who cried “WAIS”.