What does it mean when mostly sane people strip down, show off their serious need for a tan, and jump into frigid water when you leave?
Are they so excited to see you leave that they put their bodies to their physiological limits to show such happiness? Are they so sad to see our glowing faces become distant and unwavering laughter go quiet that they hurl themselves to the mercy of the seas? Are they simply more crazy than we had come to believe? In reality, it is a warming salute to cooking comrades, festive friends, dance partners, boating buddies, and everything else that we have become over the past 2 months.
We chugged out of Arthur harbor, around the southern coast of Anvers and then ducked into the Neumayer channel on our way north. If any place can make the Gould hustle at 12 knots and careen like a Jamaican bobsled, this is it, and this was the time. We were spat out into the Gerlache just afternoon and it felt like someone charging through a closed door into a room full of people in silent meditation. Our wake was the only texture to the water. Even the ice bergs and tipsy bergy bits sat silent. The perfect reflection of gray clouds and bleach white ice did more than hint that winter was closing in. It felt to me like things were settling down, hunkering down, and succumbing to a fate of darkness. Quiet time.
And our time is up too. Our heads stuffed full of memories and new knowledge. Ideas bouncing back and forth, scenes replaying, sensations cataloged.
We have seen things that shouldn’t exist and done things that just don’t happen. Most importantly we did it all together. Most impressively we managed to capture it all in various ways. Most dauntingly, we now have to sift through it all, boil it down, and synthesize the over-saturated mixture.
Oh yeah, and we have the drake passage to look forward to in the morning.