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Friday, May 17, 2013

Snow and Ice

If Antarctica’s mascot is a penguin, its icons are snow and ice.  They are a constant and sometimes overwhelming presence and exist in myriad incarnations:  an endless snowfield, a glacier snaking its way down a valley, a towering iceberg, or a cloud of flakes carried on the wind; cloaking a craggy peak or hiding beneath the water's surface.  Snow can be crisp and brilliant white or compressed into a glacier soiled with rock debris it has carried for miles and across centuries.  On dark days it can appear brooding and mysterious, while on sunny days it may seem radiant and cheerful.

Some of the icebergs are awe-inspiring due to their sheer size.  Our ship, the 117 meter long Akademik Ioffe, in the center of the photo of Stromness Harbor puts them in perspective.  These particular icebergs came from the Ross Ice Shelf, on the opposite side of Antarctica from South Georgia Island!

Akademik Ioffe entering Stromness Harbor, South Georgia Island

Others are notable for their fantastical fairyland shapes.

At Cuverville Island

Hope Bay

And some for the intense blue light which seems to radiate from within.

At Cuverville Island

At Elephant Island, in contrast to the dark peaks the snow appeared pure white.

Elephant Island

While the toe of the Heany Glacier was grey with rock debris.

Heany Glacier, St. Andrew's Bay, South Georgia Island

On Deception Island windblown snow appeared in simple and stark contrast to the adjacent volcanic debris.

Deception Island

At Cuverville Island towering cliffs at a glacier's edge show how complex the inner structure can be.

At Cuverville Island

The underwater portion of icebergs takes on hues from the water,

At Booth Island

while snowfields may take their colors from the sun and sky.

Since this blog was conceived around needlework, here is a piece I made just before leaving for Antarctica (appropriately in a shade of white) as a shower gift for a very special person.  I used Nicky Epstein's Baby Tree of Life Throw pattern and Lion Brand Fisherman's wool.  It was fun to watch the cabling turn into trees as the work progressed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reflections of Antarctica

I originally intended this post to be about ice but got bogged down with too many photographs from which to choose.   In sorting through thousands (yes, thousands!) of images I noticed that some have dramatic reflections of mountains, snow and sky.   The waters around Antarctica are well known for being rough, especially in places like the Drake Passage where waves can race around the globe with no land to slow them down.  Yet it is possible to encounter the stillest of waters in the very southern latitudes, especially in summer, when you are in protected bays or where there is a lot of ice in the water.   The ice acts just like lane dividers in a competition swimming pool to dampen the waves.  Here are my favorites, all of which are from Hope Bay at the tip of the peninsula, except for the first two, as noted in their labels.

British Antarctic Survey Base at Grytviken, South Georgia Island
Elephant Island

Since I am on the topic of mirror images, this is an appropriate time to show the pillow cover I recently completed.  I began work on it during a hand quilting class and later realized it would be a perfect accent with my parents' anniversary quilt.   Note that the design (which was already printed on the fabric) has two folds of symmetry.