Monday, December 8, 2008

Post Mortem

It's been nearly a month since I left the ice, and my memories of the past year are fading with shocking rapidity. All the long walks through the dark, the frustratingly short 2 minute showers, the excitement and the boredom, all the good times and the all bad seem so distant now, as though imagined in a dream.

Life in the real world is spectacular. Everything is so vibrant, practically humming with life. The birds, the trees, the rivers - they seem almost too real. My mind is buzzing with activity every time I leave my hotel room; there's just so much to see and do. It's all so new, a sort of rebirth after the confinement at pole.

I'd forgotten how much I like water. From ridiculously long and frequent showers to going scuba diving to simply dangling my feet in a stream, I've been spending a lot of time in and around water. Rain has probably been my favorite experience since leaving the ice - the smell, the feel, the sudden change that passes over the world.

Apparently all polies experience something like this on leaving the ice: complete wonderment at every little thing that seemed so routine before our polar incarceration. Flowers, animals, daily sunrises - everything holds a new importance to us. It's funny looking at the world through fresh eyes, and it's a wonder to experience it all again for the first time.

All these new experiences and sensations seem to be completely overwhelming the memories of life at pole. To be honest, I'm not entirely convinced that it actually happened, that I did live at the South Pole for the past year. Those memories are so slippery now, fleeting and ephemeral. I'm sure they'll reassert themselves as I settle back in to regular life, but for now, the pole feels very, very far away.

As one final note on this blog, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who read it through the year, and particularly to those who posted comments. It was one of my few lines to the outside world, and the occasional word of support went a long way in helping to maintain my mental health. I hope you all enjoyed reading it, and that I could somehow share some of the experience of being down there.

- Keith


Heidi said...

Thanks, Keith! I really enjoyed reading. I learned a lot from reading your posts. Many thanks, and good luck to you.

m.d. mcmullin said...

I haven't really commented on your blog, but I really enjoyed reading it over the past several months.

I'd be curious to hear more about your adjustment after a "long winter's nap"

Debbie said...

I loved reading your blog! Good luck in your "new" world....

Rhonda said...

Hi Keith,

Thank you for your insight. I'd like a bit more regarding the pole itself (being that the NASA shots on Google seem to be hiding something big). Did you go to magnetic pole and true north pole? I understand there's a big secret about the poles that most of us may never realize (hollow earth with sunlight from within creating Northern Lights).

Rhonda said...

Disregard directional confusion in re my comment. Answer for South Pole and Southern Lights please.
Thanks, Keith!

Keith said...

Hi, Rhonda.

Sorry, but I have no idea what NASA shots you're referring to. There aren't many good high resolution shots from space because it's just really hard/expensive to get into an orbit that crosses the poles.

As for the big secret, there really is none. The earth is as solid as can be, and the northern/southern lights come from charged particle streams funneling into the atmosphere around the magnetic poles. There's a good article on wikipedia, - we can even forecast them a couple of days out (see eg, based on what's going on on the sun, not the earth.

Johannes said...

Hi Keith! I just wanted to wish you the best for your future and leave a short comment. Hope you can adjust to the "new" circumstances.
Best wishes from Germany,

michelle said...

Hi Keith,

I really enjoyed your blogs.

Your last blog was really touching, I wish everybody could experience life with the mindset of a fresh pair of eyes.

Being a nature enthusiast and a horticulturalist by profession the scent of warm soil in the spring can be a delicious aroma, as well as the fresh air after a thunderstorm.

But. I won't go on....

Have a happy X-mas, see you New Year's!


desert tortise said...

We'll miss you! Hope the orange shirt made it. Your photos were perfect on the AGU poster. Thanks!

Tigis said...

I have only yesterday discovered your blog and I must tell you that I couldn't resist reading it all in one go. You really have a way with words, and your descriptions of life at the pole are almost as amazing as the photos you've made there. Thank you for sharing these experiences with the world - it's not something most people would ever hear of, let alone experience it. Have you ever considered writing a book about those months at South Pole? Well, not exactly writing, you have it written already, but publishing it. I would happily pay the horrendous fee for shipping it all the way to Poland, just to be able to lend it to all my English-speaking friends. I also hope that you will share some more of your photos with us :)
Best regards,
Aleksandra Sosin / Tigis

Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli said...

It was lovely reading your blog. I wonder if I'll ever visit the south / north pole, but your blog took me through the journey as you wonderfully described the experience. Thank you!

shreekanth said...

Hi Keith,

Firstly thanks a lot for sharing your views and writing the blog! It was wonderful. As i started reading, i started feeling as if i was there at the South Pole. The pictures taken were really amazing!
It is a dream for me to venture to South Pole. But i am sure there is no chance i can make it! :)

But the way you narrated your experience is superb!

Thanks again for such a lovely write up and amazing pics :)