My First Antarctic Adventure – Part VI – Addendum

The Sun Returns – Copyright 1999 Jack W. Cummings

We sat at the table of the small mess hall, warming our guts with cups of steaming coffee, waiting. We knew, by the time we slogged back to the warmth of the camp, the deep cold of that winter morning would have crept into our souls.

We set off, bodies bundled in survival clothes, thermal boots crunching on the ice of the frozen bay, our breath followed like small clouds, as we marched silently..

In the distance the mountains loomed above the bay, ghostlike, in the predawn light. Massive icebergs trapped by winter’s grasp, groaned as we trudged past. We could have stayed closer to camp, but the sights and sounds of civilization would have intruded on our special moment.

The camp lay  in the distance, silent, soft breaths spewed from our chapped lips, our hearts pounded. We waited; our scruffy beards trapped the expelled moisture, frost painted our faces and parka fur. The sky turned lighter, soft colors painted the ghostly mountains and wispy clouds. Cold invaded our still bodies. We gazed to the northeast; twilight softened, distant icebergs appeared above the cold horizon.

Would the sky be clear enough? Would that one small space on the horizon be obscured by a mass of ancient ice? Then it happened, that blazing orb we sought, that burning light, absent from our lives through the long winter night, slowly rose from the sea, casting a warm glow on the tortured ice. Our frozen faces warmed. We smiled. Then as quickly as it appeared, it slipped away. It was gone! We stared, struck with its remembered beauty, yet doubting what had seen. Only a deepening twilight remained to mark its passing. Then in a chorus, we flung our arms in the air, and let out a howling whoop! The long winter night had ended. The sun had returned. Soon we would be going home.

Note: On that auspicious occasion, none of us carried a camera, so I have no photos to offer; therefore I hope readers will be content with the word picture I hope I have presented here. Thanks for coming along.

(Next Week my final offer – Part VII – “Sensory Overload”)

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