Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summit Camp, Greenland

Today is Sunday, and the station staff employed by VECO (the contractors employed by the National Science Foundation-NSF) is off. Every day, one or more individuals have "house mouse" duty. The GA Tech Crew has house mouse duty today. "Mousing" is a camp responsibility involving washing dishes and pots, cleaning, vacuuming, bathroom cleaning, and trash duty. We have the duty today, and one more time before we leave. Mousing is a good community building activity. Everyone has to do it regardless of station. It is a good time to catch a shower (once every five days, don't ask any more). We are surrounded by water, and it is fresh! Unfortunately, it is frozen. So, the equivalent of four hundred gallons a day needs to be collected and melted. Then, if the water needs to be hot, a secondary heating occurs. Laundry, about every five or more days. Shoveling, hauling and heating water makes one reconsider every step.

In this harsh environment, nothing is taken for granted, simple pleasures like good food and conversation are cherished, and community spirit is a given. I wonder if we only become sloppy or unmindful of these when we live in a place where they can be taken for granted.

Again, it is a beautiful morning. The drifts of snow are compacting. I have been moving a gas bottle at a time on a banana sled. It is good exercise. Yesterday, with the drifts, it was real good exercise... Tomorrow, I hope to walk to the Ice Coring site. It is about six kilometers (four miles) away. If the conditions are like they are today, it should be a pleasant walk. Lots of sunscreen and protective lip balm are a necessity.

Well, it is about 9:30 pm local time. The wind is blowing hard, and the snow is swirling about. I am at SAT camp (where our equipment is based). It is called SAT camp because it is a SATellite of the main camp. I am standing at the open door of the Quonset Hut at SAT camp looking in the direction of the big house. The distance to the big house is about one-half mile. It comes into view, and then disappears depending on blowing snow. I have signed out a radio for tomorrow, but conditions will dictate if the trip to the ice coring camp is on. To go off site in poor conditions not only endangers the traveler, but the rescuer also. I won't do that.

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