Midnight light

When I first came here, I was mesmerised by continual light, the midnight sun, the beauty of the ice at all times of day and day. I couldn’t understand why both blinds and curtains were firmly closed in evenings at the bar: I didn’t come here to be reminded of evenings in Anybar, Anywhere. I wasn’t alone peeking behind the curtains, cooing at the light, wishing I could spend my every minute Out There but having run out of Things To Do. It is still cold in the summer, though not unpleasantly, and it is still flat here, so there are only so many ways you can spend your time outside. At the very least I wanted to be able to look at the icescape through the window. I didn’t want to watch yet another movie, drink yet another beer, talk more shite, all these things that I could do at home.

The tables have turned now, I want the light blocked out in the evenings, I enjoy watching films here that I know I would never see at home, I continually talk shite, and listen to it, on subjects that I might have walked away from hours earlier previously. What’s the hurry? Is there somewhere better to go?! Yes, I’m doing some things I might never have tried at home: painting, developing photos, playing guitar, making a frame, baking, reading a german book – even cross-stiching (!yes! you read it right). But I also watch almost every film that is shown, from Ben Hur to Flash Gordon, and every series from 24 to Band of Brothers. Watching television and going to films isn’t something I do much of at home. There was (arrogantly) always something ‘more worthwhile’ to do. Here, as I said, why not? An intrinsic part of spending a winter here is learning to spend time indoors, becoming comfortable with enforced inactivity, watching those films you’ve never seen before. I have become much more comfortable with myself, with doing nothing. The guilt associated with ‘time-wasting’ has gone. It’s lovely!

Anyway, we now have permanent light even if the sun isn’t permanently risen. It will be soon. In the evenings, you can lose all track of time, during work or play, since it’s continually bright. And when it’s bright, the body thinks it should be Doing Stuff. Watching a film or reading a book with the curtains open means it feels like the middle of the day even at 10pm. Evenings do not feel like evenings unless it’s dark. Plus, we enjoyed the dark, we liked the hibernation, the slowing down and unwinding. The sense of no hurry. Closing the blinds, drawing the curtains, it blocks the summer out. In a couple of months I’ll be one of those winterers who closes the curtains despite the beauty outside and though I don’t entirely understand why, I now understand why they did it to me.

I’m writing during yet another snowy white can’t-see-anything day but I’m happy as we’ve had a few days reprieve. For almost a week, we could see to the horizon, saw blue sky and contrast in the snow and enjoyed evening sun. Last Sunday I went on a trip to the penguins, and a couple of nights ago I learnt to kite-ski, flying around the base. On another evening, I went for a long walk with a friend around the perimeter at 1am. I had forgotten how beautiful, and how much fun, Halley is in the summer. Finally, finally, I have realised that the next stage will be good too.

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12 Responses to Midnight light

  1. esteebie says:

    ha-ha!! – You shouldn’t have said that… I’ll make a film buff out of you yet!XS

  2. Jean Sinclair says:

    Hi Rhian

    Have you found any more tea bags? By the way, our garden shed situation is developing – one dismantled, soon to be re-erected at end of garden wher it won’t shade the veggie patch, other shed and patio filled with contents of big shed. Everyone sleeping indoors, though – I heard there’s been some speculation.


  3. kenneth williams says:

    Hello Rhiann

    i’v e just found your posts on the web site and found them fascinating.

    My daughter Frances William shas just eleft Immingham on the Ernest Shackelton and should be with you at Christmas; she is heading for Halley, so maybe you spend some time together.

    A ;little heart wrenching from the shore, and i liked your descrioption of Immingham. We

  4. viktoria scholz says:

    I am a Montessori Teacher and have stumbled upon your postings via coolantarctica.com. I have begun a plan to strengthen the Science, Geography, History, and Culture areas of the classroom. Another Montessori Teacher has begun corresponding with people from other parts of the world. I am hoping that Antarctica can be included in our efforts. Any efforts to this end would be appreciated, as would any suggestions, photos, etc.

    Thank you for your time.


    Viktoria Scholz

  5. Tamsyn says:


    You are still out there!

    I mean to make time asap to read some more of your posts so that I can come up with some worthwhile chats instead of banal and obvious questions.

    Alot, has happened to me the last few years; some good and some bad, but now things are firmly set on on a course which I feel really happy about….the biggy is the arrival of a first baby in April 2005.

    I must get hold of your e-mail to fill you in properly and catch-up on things from your side too.

    Until I do, a big hug and lots of love from a crappy old friend – Tamsyn

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