The penguin ballet and the wire coils

January 24, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Book art, The Practicalities of Everyday Life Out Here | Leave a comment

23rd December

A ship is sailing into the back bay as I emerge from the house in pyjamas. Forced to forego usual spot for another rock to maintain modesty.  Search for chicks, but all nest occupants still sitting tight. Rick goes over early for talk, leaving us to tidy. Frank stamps whilst eating granola and banana. Quite yawny today – relaxing effects of bath linger. Molchanov visits until midday; pax happy to sit and watch the penguins. This is Nathan’s(EL) last trip before going to work in the Ross Sea area – he will deliver a parcel to my friend Al, working for NZAHT at Cape Royds, heh heh. Delphine has invited us over for lunch and shower, but we must decline, as a major restock is required before Nordnorge visit. We have new books to find shelf-space for, and cubicles to rearrange and label. Have I mentioned how Helen is Queen of the Labels?! As tide is low, Rick has decided to attempt removal of wire coils on sea bed near chains landing. I need food and a wee sit in the sun – a chee se and tomato sandwich. Eat swiftly and  straight down to boatshed. Can categorically confirm that we’re out of calendars. Reconfigure boxes. Several new ones to find and slash open. Also refill the nut-mix-box; of crucial daily importance! Helen finds all the t-shirt varieties and then goes to help Rick. I hump four boxes up and unpack them. Hear radio in the bunkroom – Nordnorge will be with us in an hour. The confusion of wire is being brought to order and boxed up, so that landing site will be in a useable state. Ah they have such mucky hands! Doesn’t feel like Christmas even though the advent calendar says it is. Help carry heavy battery up from the not-working-magnetometer. Lie in instant stupor of tea and cake until Nordnorge arrives, exactly on time. The Hotel Manager brings cards and stamp money, then hurries out to look for chicks. Quite early on we start singing ‘Away in a Manger’ and very quietly, the whole shopful joins in – a little celestial choir in wellington  boots. Lots of kisses from our favorite staff, some of whom are off home for a few weeks. Some challenging scenarios to test one’s patience – people triple checking my sums (yes it is still $303!) or accumulating enormous pile of goods with no money to pay for it. Karin had planned for us to join the ship for dinner, but the Captain is worried about ice in the Neumayer, so they’re offski. Crack into mega-frank while Rick and Helen nip out for pisco and crisps (bringing me a small glass on the way.) I’m hungry for some simple protein – a small tin of crabmeat with chopped tomatoes, onion and mayo – before stocking to the rafters. We have three ships tomorrow (and the massive Marco Polo, who, with over four hundred passengers is unable to land at Lockroy, but will probably purchase stamps and post lots of mail for us to process.) More box heaving. Spend hours filling shelves and baskets. Outside for a swift chick check, but all the birds that lift up of their own accord only have eggs. I wonder if the babies are hidden or merely behind. More chicks have been seen at Jougla. From this viewpoint I can watch penguins performing aqua-ballet. Try for early bed. At half past ten Polar Star’s engine signals their premature anchoring.

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