Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saying 'Farewell'

Well, it has begun once again; I'm starting the process of bidding adieu to the outside world. There is the philosophical side to this, which includes just enjoying what these temperate climes have to offer (the smell of plants, watching animals do their thing, being around friends and family, etc.), as well as the practical matters of packing for spending over a year in Antarctica and then doing whatever amount of travel on the way back to the States from the other side of the world. That practical stuff is easier this time. I find myself weighing more the purchase of new items against using ones I already own instead of trying to figure out in general what I should be taking at all. I look at living on the Ice as a great way to cull the wardrobe herd, since haute couture isn't something very prevalent there. So, for example, that is why I'm considering things like whether I should I buy a new pair of trousers or just take along those old detachable-leg travel pants that are so much darker on the legs, since I wore them just as shorts more often on various trips than in full pant form. Similarly, I also hope that through regular use that I might be able to finally wear out the shoes I got in 1994 to play in the state football (N. American rules, mind you) championship game, which was played on AstroTurf. I used them for my workouts all through the last time I was at Pole, but they haven't worn out yet. I seem to go through clothes and shoes pretty slowly, which I suppose is a good thing. A lot of the considerations are little things like that. It's not very sexy, but there it is. Que sera, sera.

OK, so the French being bandied about in this little post is a nod to the ongoing amazing sporting event that is the Tour de France. Not only is the athletic feat of riding the entire race impressive, but also the scenery that they ride through is a fabulous highlight each year. You get to see mountains (Pyrenees looked awesome last week), cities, villages, fields, forests, and all the myriad folks that show up along the stages to cheer the riders on. It's just such a cool thing to see these guys riding through some agricultural area, which looks very familiar, even if the fields are a bit smaller on average that the ones amongst which I grew up, but peppered in there are centuries-old chateaux and villages that just aren't part of the fabric of the physical and cultural landscape here in the States. I suppose some folks that watch find some bit of Schadenfreude (sorry, that's German, whatever) in watching the occasional wreck, but it's not really a highlight for me. It's all a grand spectacle. I have a really nice memory of sitting and watching some Tour de France action on TV in Carcassonne, France (the real place, not the board game) in 2001 on Bastille Day. I was staying in the spare bedroom of some folks that ran a fully-booked B&B, and it was fun to share the excitement with them before going out into the crowds that had gathered to see fireworks launched from the vieux ville, which led to one of my favorite photos from all my travels.

“Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength.”
~Henry Ward Beecher


Lilly said...

I hope this hasn't seemed like the shortest summer ever for you!

I loved your fireworks photo. I've never succeeded at getting such a good shot, we get too much wind here and the smoke often obscures the best part of the display.

I have some new pics up at if you want to see what I have been up to this summer.

On Friday I am seeing that new film "Moon" with a couple of people from the W.Gibson discussion list. I hope you get a chance to see it before you deploy. If not, make sure someone gets a DVD of it to you when it is released on disk. It has been shown at NASA with the film's director present, and the experts apparently gave it the thumbs up.

It occurred to me when reading your post that you don't sound entirely "up" for your return to the pole. Perhaps if you set a specific goal for something you want to get done while you're there, (write a novel? I don't know) it may give a bit more joy and anticipation to the excursion.

In any case, looking forward to future blog posts from 'life at the pole', always of interests for us ordinary "terrestrials" :)

Eric said...

Ethan I find a new insight fullness in your Blog. Your frame of mind or view of things might have changed a little. Or it could be more detail in your Blog. I like it.

Lilly thinks that you might not be up to the pole, I think you might be pissed off at the MAN. Being pissed off a bit helps keeps a person on track.

Repeat after me;
Screw The Man.

It sounds like some old 70s sitcom.

Lilly said...

Just a comment to Eric, I did not mean that Ethan is not "up" to the job at the Pole, I wrote "up for" ie, feeling enthusiastic about it.

Perhaps this is what you meant anyway, but I thought it best to be clear. I am sure that Ethan is up to just about any kind of job one can think of.

I agree with you though, that channeling anger or frustration into an undertaking can generate a lot of energy.

Eric said...

Yes Lilly,
enthusiastic, I know that's what you meant. Eric

Rachel B said...

Two-tone zip off pants could be all the rage in Antarctica this year, who knows?

And sweet fireworks picture.

EthanG said...

I may have written before that it indeed feels different heading back for more of Pole. Given the job hunt I went through, I'm just doing my best to accept this as a long-term gambit to wait for the economy in the U.S. to pick up a bit. Like anything, it has its ups and down, but should ultimately be as good or bad an experience as I make of it. I'm kicking around a lot of ideas for personal diversion away from work, including some writing projects. 'Nuf said.

Yes, I want to see "Moon", for sure.

The fireworks photo was pure luck, as I was still using a film point-and-shoot camera in 2001.

Sure, there's anger and frustration at world events (a.k.a. The Man), but it isn't necessarily a chip I want/need to carry on my shoulder for another year-plus. I certainly know plenty about those feelings, though. ~E

Becky said...

The only potential downside to your zip-leg pants is the effect of the cold on the zippers-both in of they continue to function when you want them to, and if the get cold and you sit on them. Of course, you may be wearing your long underwear at all times, but still, the thought of a line of chill around the thighs is uncomfortable.
Heck, splurge on a pair of new pants-you'll be seeing a lot of them after all.

Lilly said...

As long as you continue to write, I am sure you will always find readers.

Lilly said...

Just encountered this book:
The Ice People Antarctic romp!