Friday, November 7, 2008

Station Opening

The weather at pole this past week has been windy - too windy for planes to land - and station opening had to be delayed a day. On Wednesday, winterovers still outnumbered summer folks 57 to 34. By the end of Thursday, we were down to 30, and the new people up to 110. Saturday it was roughly 10 to 190. Very quickly the station was overrun with new people, and most of our family of winterovers had disappeared.

Station opening is defined by the arrival of the first Hercules C-130, the workhorse planes that transport everything - people, fuel, and equipment - to and from pole. The last one left pole February 14th, beginning our winter season. Thursday, the first one we'd seen in 8 months landed and taxied over to the station, where it disgorged a mass of 40 new people. An hour later, another arrived with another 40, snatched up half the winter crew, and flew off to warmer climes.

That evening and the next day, it was tremendously clear that life had changed. All throughout our home, strange people were running about, acting like they owned the place. Winterovers were marginalized, newly ousted from places they used to tread freely. In the galley, we began to cluster at one end, suspiciously watching the masses of new folks. In the hallways and at work, the arrival of a fellow winterover - even someone who you rarely spoke to in the winter - is now greeted with a smile of pure delight.

Nobody quite realized through winter how much we had become a family. Only when a horde of strangers moved into our home and dragged away half of the members of that family, did we begin to understand. We sixty people living through the six month night on the bottom of the world formed a strong bond. We are now and always will be close; polies to the bitter end.

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