My 2011 began in ice and ended in fire. But, more importantly, it started with happiness and ended with the same. Sure, there was a lot of other stuff in the middle: sadness, anger, disappointment. But it's the start and the finish of the story that leave the biggest impression, so 2011 will, in my mind, go down as a Very Good Year.
The year started, as I said, with Ice. We counted down the New Year with
champagne and friends at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.
I arrived there on Nov. 3, 2010, and spent the first six weeks of 2011 at the
Station as a contractor.
A week-long vacation in Christchurch, New Zealand in mid-February ended a mere
day before a terrifying earthquake struck the city. I was lucky to have my family
fly in to meet me, so we were able to see the city before it was badly damaged.
Then it was back to Antarctica, this time for nine months in McMurdo Station, on
the coast. We waved goodbye to the sun, and watched our station slip into darkness
for the long winter. Winter means no flights for the season, as temperature and
weather make it too dangerous to land. (Photo by Booni Doc)
Life continued on throughout the Long Dark, including working with my crew and
spending time with friends on station, who were quickly becoming more like family.
(Photo by Booni Doc)
In mid-June, as we were in full darkness, we gathered and celebrated Midwinter,
along with all of the other wintering stations on the continent. There was amazing
food, dancing, friends, and fun!
Flights returned in mid-August, bringing mail and fresh food, as well as the first
wave of summer workers to help us open the station for the upcoming season. And of
course the sun returned as well, bringing stunning sunrises and sunsets, as well as
the rare and glorious phenomenon known as nacreous clouds.
I finally left Antarctica on October 14, after exactly 350 days on continent. From
there, it was off to Hawaii for two weeks of defrosting and thawing out in the tropical
sun, and stretching my legs on the hiking trails.
The year ended with fire... two kinds, actually. Shortly before midnight, fire broke
out on The Mound, which my hometown (Flower Mound, TX) is named after. Flames
stretched along the field, leaving the Mound scorched. But the frightening display was
offset by beautiful fireworks, as my family and I gathered to watch the New Year roll
into Times Square and our own Dallas, TX. (Photo by Brett Chisum/Flickr)
There's a poem titled "Fire and Ice", by my favorite poet of all time:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. -Robert Frost
Since my blog is named after another poem by Frost, I thought it fitting to include this piece in my inaugural post. Now let's hope the world doesn't actually end in 2012...