I just spent a brief half hour lunch, staring out the large second floor window here at a small black speck half a mile away – making its way slowly across the ice field.
Stopping every 20 paces or so, the tiny figure would slowly turn a 360 degree circle, checking for predators or possibly just studying on track, before setting off again across the ice, little feet flapping along, heading who knows where.
You can barely make him out but he’s way out there just past the central tine in the pitchfork -shaped shadows out on the ice. A teeny tiny black spot.
A little Adelie penguin all by his lonesome.
His meandering odyssey reminded me instantly of a forgotten dream I used to have quite regularly as a child ( and less regularly as an adult).
I would be about somewhere in the world, usually in the countryside, running and always moving, relentlessly pursued by massive grey sharks – landsharks. There was only every one or two but they were the size of jumbo jets – and deathly silent. These nightmares would burst up through the very crust of the earth looking for me ( and only me) and try to gobble me up. They could go anywhere and break through any surface : the only warning an uneasy feeling and a shadowy ripple underfoot microseconds before they attacked.
Luckily always with just enough time to escape – keep running.
They never got me – I’ve always been a fast runner and in these dreams I move like a parkour-savant ninja. Easy peasy.
I am an artful dodger at the best of times anyway.
It occurs to me just now that this scenario is an actual possibility here, watching this little penguin wanders the ice alone. How does he feel at the moment? Nervous? Lonely? Or just hungry and looking for a meal. He must be tired. And a little paranoid – constantly vigilant for killer whales or leopard seals that can pop up and grab him through the thinner sections of the sea ice. He’s still walking – stops every 20 steps or so – has a good look around. Keeps on.
I wonder would he see their shadow under the ice?
What would flash thought his little penguin consciousness as the crushing jaws closed around him and the razorlike teeth tore his skin.
…maybe, whatever the penguin equivalent for “O Shit!” is I guess.
Jeez. Could these things grab me once I start working out and about here on the thinning seaice, heading to the nearby penguin colonies or just walking around the shoreline.
There was a lady killed by a leopard seal not long ago, dragged down under the ice floe.
Drowned her real good it did.
My fantasy Landsharks are real here.
It’s not the first childhood nightmare that has rang eerily true since I’ve been here in Antarctica.
Many many moments where I’ve felt that I’ve seen this moment in a dream when I was a kid. Even stupid things like a breakfast conversation this morning, the person sitting opposite me and what they were eating. It’s the details that stick.
I’ve seen it and other mundane moments this past week, in my dreams from many years ago.
*speaking of recurrent nightmares, remind me to tell you about the red glowing pig eyes at my window, the exploding TV room or the persistent (and annoying) werewolf calling himself “the British Umpire” who would stalk me along quiet country roads and launch himself ferociously at me from the darkness.
No wonder I write.
The winter crew had their official station handover just now – informal speeches and the handing over of the station key to the new station leader for summer. What a great group- 18 or so dedicated personnel who roughed it over the toughest and most blizzard filled winter in history. I hope the 80 or so of us can hold up to the same standard set for us.
Later this after noon the old crew will wander out to the ship and then they’ll be heading home with a lifetime of stories to tell.
Hopefully no landsharks are about.
Today for me has been power outages, flaky UPS issues, annoying network issues but overall a much better day work wise. I’ve had a few wins today and they’re finally outweighing the losses.
Boopity boop clickety click…computers : meh.
Tonight the bar opens and we are having a night to celebrate finally – a day off tomorrow to nurse any hangovers and then our summer routine swings into gear.
Settling into a routine now and I have 4 months to whip things into shape.
Winter is over.
Let the summer begin!