Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Green Christmas


I've never experienced such contrasts.  For two and a half months, our crew made Antarctica home, or at least as home as Antarctica would let us.  The sea ice, where we worked, lived, and slept, became as familiar to us as my backyard in Idaho.  The uninhibited white stretched before us everyday, as we went about our research amidst the groaning seals.  We became accustomed to the cold temperatures (but did not complain when conditions got "tropical" by the end of the season).  The immense Mt Erebus, steamingly eyeing us from above, although always awe-inspiring, became part of the backdrop.  The things that were so striking and surprising when we first arrived, became part of the daily routine.  It's as if we've only ever known daylight to be constant for 24 hours.  To become comfortable in a place, is to make it home, at least for the vagabond biologist, and that's what the field camp at Big Razorback Island in Antarctica became.

Post snow petrel flyby

Exploring the innards of a snow cave/ crevasse in the Erebus Glacier Tongue

But suddenly, our crew found ourselves packing and cleaning, tearing down the field camp and moving to McMurdo in preparation to leave the great white of Antarctica.  We took our last steps on the ice on Dec 16, boarded the C17.  Five hours later, our feet found purchase on the wet asphalt on a warm and rainy New Zealand night.  The smell of plants and soil wafted upon us, the dark night engulfed us.  Our life of white and cold was quickly replaced by green and warm.

Waiting to board the C17 (sniff, sniff)
In the belly of the whale
Note the dudes in the hammocks and camp chair
Birds are singing out my window as I write this.  Flowers are in bloom.  Trees are getting trimmed, lawns are getting mowed.  Decorated Christmas trees with presents aplenty can be seen through open doors and windows as you pass by, letting the summer breeze in.  A Christmas in the southern hemisphere.  White for green, and though Christmas makes me miss the white already...green is pretty darn nice too.

Green New Zealand (Akaroa in Banks Peninsula)
The obligatory sheep picture
More green
Tui (too-ee) at Hinewai Reserve, Banks Peninsula (note band on leg--this bird was introduced to the Reserve a few years ago to try to reinstate native communities to the area)
Night exists!
I am not alone this Christmas, don't you worry.  My gracious host family (from a previous study abroad experience I had here) took me in, and, on Christmas day, I fly to Australia to meet my parents.  An unusual Christmas for the DeVoe family (minus Luke), but joyous nonetheless.

"Bleh!"  (translation: "Merry Christmas!")
Merry Christmas to all eight of my blog readers!!  Enjoy the white if you have it, but most importantly, enjoy family and friends, and dwell on the blessings of God....

7 comments:

  1. A very Merry Christmas to you and your Mom and Dad Jesse...while we are in Washington celebrating Christ's birth we will be thinking and praying for you and your family. The pictures were wonderful from New Zealand...did we ever tell you that Jerry has always wanted to see New Zealand and now he can by looking at your pictures. Looking forward to more pictures of both countries!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Merry Christmas, Jesse. I'm glad I found your blog this year. I'm sure there are more than eight of us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing pictures and experience Jesse. Merry Christmas to you too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We will do so, Jesse. Thoughtful post and beautiful pictures, as always. Wondering if the tui bird says its name? Have a wonderful Christmas with your NZ family and, on Xmas day, with your folks!

    Thanks for the translation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jesse,
    Your writing & photos are an inspiration to us all. May you have many more adventures! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another great chapter! Your aspirations are inspirational.

    ReplyDelete