Sunday, 6 January 2008

Hooray for October Ryan...

I like October Ryan. I’ve been opening his boxes for the last few days and getting lots of surprises.

Before I left, I remember that October Ryan was a bit frazzled...he had just a few weeks to get familiar with the needs of the Antarctic and had to pack boxes and boxes full of stuff that January Ryan - that's me - would be needing or wanting.

First of all, there's the personal stuff. My cross-country skiis. Maple syrup. Chai tea. My travel quilt which my mother made for me (as opposed to the home quilt, which doesn't leave their house; and the über-quilt, yet to be made, for when I have a real house and bed). My down pillow. However, October Ryan also sent a few things I didn't need - protein powder, for instance. Halley throws so much meat at you here that I will be having no protein deficiencies. A typical dinner will have fish, chicken, and beef all available if one chooses. Also, a few books arrived that aren't particularly necessary - the library here is fully stocked.

However, on the work side of things, October Ryan shone. Parts I didn't know I needed showed up, just as I needed them. I unpacked a huge antenna with the wrong connector on it, and grumbled to myself about it (and October Ryan) for a few days. But then, lo and behold, in another box, there was an adapter that made it all usable. Funny that October Ryan didn't tell me about that.

Anyway. January Ryan has been pretty busy here, visiting sites and getting ready for a field blitz to five different locations to install stuff. Yesterday, Rich and I were at one such site, which was relatively close to the Shackleton, which was leaving that day. So, we wandered by. And it was almost sad to see the sea ice location, formerly a hotbed of activity, now reverted back to a bleak and empty patch of sea ice. After the high winds this week, even the massive ramp from the shelf down to the sea was blown full of snow, which we had to dig a channel through to get down.

When we got to the ship, we helped with a last bit of cleanup, before the Shackleton cast off. Some of last year's winterers were leaving on this voyage, and it was a fairly poignant moment for these folks, who have been sharing the same toilet for 12 months, but will now not see each other for quite some time. So, a few tearful farewells.

Then, when all the departing people were on the ship, and the ship-group stood looking at the sea-ice-group, the inevitable happened: a snowball fight. I swear, it seems that any person who doesn't grow up with snow will take any opportunity to start a snowball fight. People who were - just a minute before - sharing a classic book-romantic departure scene like Sam Gamgee and Frodo at the end of the Lord of the Rings, are suddenly shouting threats at one another and drilling each other in the face with packed ice.

But that moment passed too, and the Shackleton finally left. I hope next year, or the year following, I get to take it down or back. It is a crucial part of the Antarctic trip, I think. At least I lived on it for a couple weeks!

Until then, I shall get back to work. Wouldn't want to let October Ryan down, after all the hard work he's done.


Nicole said...

Have the other packages come yet?

Boo said...

I miss October Ryan. He used to drink beer with me, and turn up unexpectedly at my back door (so to speak).

Ryan said...

Packages have just arrived. Thanks loads! Already working my way through the Big Turks, fruit bars, nuts, and the log cabin magazine (which is now working its way around the base)

And yes, January Ryan misses drinking beer in your backyard, too.