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September 17, 2005


I had plenty of time on my drive tonight from a site somewhere east of Kingman, Arizona to St. George, Utah, via Las Vegas, Nevada in that somewhat surreal drive-at-night mode for thoughts and feelings to waft through. It seemed that every song that came on (random shuffle on my Ipod) was related to my experiences in Antarctica, and I became sad that I'm not going down this season. Since deciding not to go, I have experienced several fleeting moments of sadness, starting about a month ago, but tonight I felt a persistent sadness, deep and true. The stark, familiar landscape, the community, the routine. The experience. It's hard to believe, tonight, that I have chosen not to go back this season--and that I'll likely never make it back there. How can I actually actively *choose* to not go back to such an incredible place? I thought of my office with the IT guys next door, the parties that can be counted on and planned for every year (bring 70s clothes for the disco party in October, a Halloween costume--or at least an idea, dress-up clothes for Thanksgiving and Christmas), the penguins out at Cape Royds and the seals out on the sea ice, the monstrous skua, the white, the black, the brown, the blue. And the red of puffy parkas.

I guess I haven't even posted that I won't be going back this season. I have had a slight change of job, which takes me (mostly) out of polar and puts me in etc. This spring was just too cold for me. It was too hard to go from my winter in Antarctica to summer in New Zealand, and then back to dreary in Boulder and then cold cold cold in Alaska--twice. Alaska did me in. Beautiful, wonderful, but just not what I needed after four months of cold. I need variety. So, when a separate group for polar projects was formed this summer, I opted out. By not changing positions (from where I am now to the new polar group), I've changed positions (from mostly polar to etc.). Hopefully I'll still have the opportunity to do some polar stuff, and maybe even head back to the ice--just not for a full season. That would be lovely. When I decided out of polar, I was ecstatic. Ready for a change. What will winter be like in the northern hemisphere? There's skiing, and holidays, and flexibility. Staying, rather than going, seems at this point like an adventure. What will winter be like tucked cozy into my apartment, with free time and personal space?

Speaking of cold places, things are just about wrapped up here in Nevada. I mean, Utah. Jay finished off his tasks on our last site tonight, and I need to do my part tomorrow morning. Then, I'm free. Back to Boulder.

Posted by beth at September 17, 2005 7:46 AM

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:-( that is sooooo sad! but i'm happy at the idea that we have more time possibilities to visit you in colorado and maybe you will be in the seattle area for christmas??! you will just have to create many crazy parties in boulder to fill that void!

Posted by: wilma - mother of beth at September 19, 2005 3:37 AM

Beth, we realize that was a big decision. I bet there are dozens of people who, like your mom, thought about the new possibilities. What did Thoreau write about leaving Walden Pond? "I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one."

Please keep the blog up. Your entries are interesting everywhere you go!

Posted by: bill & jess at September 20, 2005 2:42 PM

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