Monday, January 8, 2007

Getting Ready

I have slowly been stacking my stuff in my corner of the basement, searching for those cold weather items lost in recesses during the summer months (and what has passed for a winter here in Northeastern Montana so far). In addition to the Antarctic gear, I need to have summer clothes for my time in Santiago and Torres Del Paine Chile, where it is the middle of summer and warm. I have also squeezed in a few days in the Everglades on my way home so.... It is an interesting mix from size 13 White's winter pacs to baggies shorts. Then there's the binoculars, camera, video camera (new this year!) and associated gear, field guides, book of Neruda poems about Chilean birds, computer, and...!

A number of years ago when I was getting ready for a 6 month stint at Palmer Station, I asked my friend Steve Bodio for a list of the top 10 books I should take to read. Not only did Steve get me a list of his top 10, he bought me a copy of each to take with! That's a good friend. I am going to have to try to reconstruct that list one of these days, but one that I remember was Patrick O'Brian's The Far Side of the World of the Aubrey and Maturin series. He got me hooked on Patrick O'Brian and I usually grab the next two or so in the series for my ship ride south.

I also start thinking about the weather. I grew up far from the ocean and although the topography in the middle of the Drake passage is often very similar to the topography in Eastern Montana, at least here the substrate doesn't feel like it is trying to buck me off. I don't do well when the seas pick up and I usually take my medicine and get horizontal in my bunk for the duration. I wish I handled it better because I have always been fascinated by extreme weather and the waves, wind and albatrosses (A Royal Albatross from last year is pictured here) are certainly worth watching in those conditions. The wind here has been pretty bad the last couple of days and I hope I don't bring it with me.

One little note from Montana- I had a Long-tailed Weasel run across the road in front of me on the way home from work this evening. A white dash trailing a black dot across the blacktop.


Montana OAE said...

Can you tell me more about the book of Neruda poems? Thanks.

John Carlson said...

The book of Neruda poems is an illustrated book of Neruda bird poems published by Lynx Editions. While on our trip in Torres when we observe some of the birds in the book I will have our local guide read the poems in Spanish first and then I will read the English translation. One of my favorite passages from this book is the last stanza of a poem entitled " A poet says good-bye to the birds"

A people's poet
provincial and birder,
I've wandered the world in search of life:
bird by bird I have come to know the earth:
discovered where fire flames aloft:
the expenditure of energy
and my disinterestedness were rewarded,
even though no one paid me for it,
because I received those wings in my soul and immobility never held me down.
Pablo Neruda