February 1, 2011

This year marks the centenary of the first successful attempt to reach the South Pole. In celebration of that achievement, and also because there is a huge storm blowing in today, and because February is dang cold, I hereby declare this month to be “Antarctica Month” here at All Manner of Thing.

Throughout the month I intend to write, as time allows, about the many fascinations of the great southern continent: its geography, wildlife, and especially the history of its exploration. The idea of a ‘theme month’ is something new for me, but I think it is going to be great fun.

I don’t know very much about Antarctica, to be honest, but there it is: big, white, and silent. It seems a shame to simply ignore it.

Gather around, then, and pull up a comfortable block of snow to sit on. Huddle together if you get chilled. Antarctica, here we come.

17 Responses to “Antarctica!”

  1. KathyB Says:

    When we were children, my brother and I invented imaginary countries for ourselves. We must have had a fascination with cold, since his was in Siberia and mine was in Antarctica. I eagerly await some real information about the frozen south.

  2. cburrell Says:

    I am glad to hear that, Kathy. I’m not surprised that your childhood imaginings tended toward the remote and empty places. There is something romantic about them.

    Is it significant that your imaginary country and your brother’s were on opposite ends of the globe?

  3. Mac Says:

    I was about to say “this is so cool,” but…

  4. Frida Waara Says:

    Having just returned from the “real” south, I will forever be fascinated by the place. I skied to the North Pole in 2001, but my visit to the South Pole this December made 90 degrees north look like a walk in the park compared to Amundsen’s expedition. A centurey later, Our Polar Regions continue to fascinate.

  5. cburrell Says:

    You have been to both poles? I admire you, and I am jealous of you also. That must have been wonderful.

    Thank you for your comment, and for including a link to your interesting project’s web site.

  6. Christina A. Says:

    Craig, maybe you will consider featuring Frida’s project later in the month…it looks pretty interesting?!?

  7. cburrell Says:

    Yes, I might. I have a long list of topics I want to write about, and only a limited number of days (and a limited amount of time). We’ll see.

  8. Adam Hincks Says:

    Craig, I recommend you watch BLAST!, if you can get your hands on it, since a good chunk takes part near McMurdo Station (Antarctica). I really enjoyed the film.

    Also, you should have a discussion on the proper pronunciation of the word “antarctic”. After the legendary Dr. Toporoski vehemently insisted in one of our classes that the “c” is silent I have endeavoured to follow his example. But perhaps you could illuminate us on the schools of thought here.

  9. cburrell Says:

    Thank you for the suggestion, Adam. I think you may have mentioned that film to me before. I think you said it was a real blast, or something like that…

    I never knew there was a controversy about the pronunciation. I will investigate.

  10. Erin Says:

    This is exciting! I get a chill just reading about this! I can’t wait to learn hear your take on leopard seals…and the less commonly known sea pigs!

    Also, I don’t know the general agreement, but aesthetically I like it better with a silent ‘c’

    February is shaping up to be a great month!

  11. cburrell Says:

    Thanks, Erin. Leopard seals are on the agenda; sea pigs were not, but I am reconsidering. I didn’t know about them.

    I have been doing some research on the pronunciation issue, and will present my findings in a few days.

    Thanks for the pun…

  12. […] Comments cburrell on Antarctica!Erin on Antarctica!cburrell on Antarctic driftJanet on Antarctic driftAdam Hincks on […]

  13. Extollager Says:

    Play Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sinfonia Antarctica. (I had just been listening to some of this music when I stumbled across this blog.)

  14. Janet Says:

    You stumbled across it?


  15. cburrell Says:

    I am always worried that this blog might be a stumbling block to someone. Extollager, I do apologize.

    The Sinfonia antartica is on the agenda.

  16. davidhirzel Says:

    Likewise in honor of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the South Pole by Scott and Amundsen, I have made 2011 a full year of honor to that achievement.

    Twice a week until at least 2012 look for a new post at Each post will be a diary entry from one of the men on shore that fateful year, posted one hundred years to the day from when it was written.

    Today’s post, from Cherry Garrard’s memoir of the winter journey in search of penguin embryos. Cherry describes the progress:

    “The horrors of that return journey are blurred to my memory and I know they were blurred to my body at the time. I think that applies to all of us, for we were much weakened and callous. . . . I know that we slept on the march; for I woke up when I bumped against Birdie, and Birdie woke when he bumped against me. . . .I know that our sleeping-bags were so full of ice that we did not worry if we spilt or water or hoosh over them as they lay on the floor-cloth. . . I know that if it was only -40 degrees when we camped for the night we considered quite seriously that we were going to have a warm one. . . .Suddenly we saw a gleam of light in the line of darkness running across our course. It was the Barrier edge: we were all right now.”

    Dr. Wilson tells the rest. From his diary entry for 1 August , 1911: “The new moon rose and we got away and were in at Cape Evans on the 36th day of our absence about 10 o’clock in the evening. It was a great comfort to get off one’s sopping and frozen garments and turn into bed after a good supper of cocoa and bread and jam. We were pretty tired for want of sleep.”

    David Hirzel
    Author, “Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean”

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