Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: WEATHER (07/19/18)
By Pamela Heemskerk
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
So many layers, I feel like a yeti.
I make my clumsy way to the entrance, life jacket check, and step down into the zodiac. Iced air on my face; I turn away, eyes streaming. Gloves off and I trail my fingers in clear ocean. I love the cold, but soon retreat from the razor sharp water.
We land as it starts snowing, ice driving into our faces as we walk. The beach is littered with white confetti. Each sand dimple snatches the flakes from the wind and holds them, forming little white nests. Two penguins in the wavelets, bobbing and turning like children.
‘Let’s jump the waves. One, two, three, jump!’
‘I can jump too.’
‘Look at that wave. Ready, jump!’
‘I jumped higher then you.’
Two more join them and form a busy circle.
‘What are you doing after this?’
‘Let’s go up the hill.’
‘No you can’t go there.’
‘Let’s jump the waves! One two, three, jump!’
‘No, don’t push.’
‘Look, at me!’
‘She pushed. Stop!’
Two second move away. ‘Phew!’ they seem to say. ‘She’s hard work isn’t she?’ They stand on the shingle stunned, shake their heads free of the conversation, and then move off.
We head for the old whaling station. White streaks delineate every furrow as far as the eye can see. I imagine those whale hunters; everything wet; no way to get warm or dry. The old living quarters has collapsed in the middle; snow and mud create crazy paving round the base. White icing is pressed against the curve of the fuel tanks; plain fondant covers the old runway. On top of the fat smelters, a gull chick hunkers down, fluff creating its own doona.
The snow pings on my jacket, finds a crack and leaks in. My scarf is wet from breath. ‘I’m glad to have someone to walk with’, says Glenda. Her husband, the mountain goat, has already climbed the first ridge and is striding towards the next. We struggle against the wind up to the rim of rocks. A glance over – sheer cliffs drop straight to the Antarctic Ocean swelling far below. I take care not to go too close; ninety seconds in this water and you’re gone.
The last day of my dream trip: I remember the years where I thought I would never go. I think of the planning, the saving, the shopping, my fear of flying and my friends’ prayers giving loft to the aeroplane’s wings. I stand, immersed in God’s perfect creation of white and black and blue, and cherish His so-clear instruction to ‘Go’.
I turn for a last look at Deception Island. A giant vertebra lolls beside a wooden boat.
And I remember our briefing this morning:
‘Minus nine and snowing’, our guide had said. ‘No more of that blue sky rubbish. Real Antarctic weather.’
‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’
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