I set my alarm for 5:45 am Sunset Day. There was a bubbly giddiness about the station - like we were a community of 6-year-olds on Christmas morning, not a pack of young adults living at the end of the earth about to see the sun for the last time.
All day, people were dashing to and fro, making preparations for the evening's festivities. Most employees at pole work 6-day weeks, with a special 2-day weekend scheduled once a month. (I say most, because beakers - scientists - don't get days off, ever.) March's 2-day weekend was scheduled for sunset weekend, so in addition to the general celebrations, there was a short vacation for everyone else to look forward to.
Everyone showed up for the celebratory dinner dressed their best. The galley had been rearranged by a small army of volunteers, with lighting dimmed, white tablecloths throughout, and candles spread across two long banquet tables. The food was exquisite, the company outstanding, and the conversation practically sparkled. Everyone was in the highest spirits, there was a wonderful feel about the room, and the evening was a delight. Really one of my happiest times so far at pole.
Following dinner, people maneuvered into smaller groups for coffee, tea, or - for those who fancied - Scotch. There are 3 major celebrations through the year at pole - sunset, midwinter, and sunrise - and people pull out all the stops on those three nights. Half a dozen bottles of excellent scotch (which had been carefully hoarded in closets so far) made their way into public, and everyone relaxed, laughed, drank, and talked for a couple of hours. That was followed by a fantastic party - think of a REALLY good New Year's party, minus any worries about the New Year or anything else, with 60 of your closest friends, and you're getting close - which went until the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday, people slowly filtered into the galley all morning. The station was quiet, people were smiling and calm, and a quiet mellow atmosphere hung over the place. Through the station, they sat, sipped mimosas, and just enjoyed life in the slow lane. I had to go to work, but the general feeling of peace was wonderfully rejuvenating.
Of course, not everything could be perfect - the weather didn't hold. When I awoke early Friday morning, it was to catch every possible minute of the sunset. Instead, I woke to find the world covered in thick cloud, the temperature up above -40 for the first time in a month, and a diffuse white light which had replaced the pinks and purples of the sunset. It even snowed that afternoon - a rare event here. We ended up missing the actual sunset completely.
Still, I can't wait for midwinter and sunrise.