This book was such a great find. I had read a brief excerpt from it in the reading material for a class I was taking and it really spoke to me. I took a chance and ordered it and am so, so glad that I did.
Written by Wendy Trusler (WT) and Carol Devine (CD), it begins with the growth of an idea for a clean-up project in Antarctica. This is a delicate ecosystem and the extreme conditions mean that anything left behind will remain indefinitely, nothing has a chance to break down. Carol Devine conceives of and designs the project, finds funding and partners to make it happen, and hires Wendy Trusler as chef for the expedition. The book is formatted like a polar journal and includes historic maps and journal entries; journal entries about and from the project; and recipes. Now I am not one of those people who can sit and read cookbooks but Trusler’s recipes are great reading. Besides being incredibly appealing, she writes with a passion for food and a very visceral connection to it, making the reading very sensual.
Where this book really shines is in the writing about the landscape and their interactions with it, in their deep connection to remote and wild places. The book is peopled with folks willing to endure extreme conditions in order to conduct scientific research at the end of the earth; with the folks who keep the stations functional; and the volunteers who pay heaps of money to come work on the cleanup project. All very inspiring.
Here are a few brief excerpts –
From WT (only a part of her list) –
February 22, 1996
I want to make sure I remember : The way the mist comes down right on us/Twinkling lights on the ships in the harbor/Penguins running with outstretched wings/Midnight sunshine/Laundry day – wringing clothes like Nana/Wind pushing me down the mountain – wind pushing me up the mountain/Seams of green and red jasper in rock/Patterns on soil made by rock and wind/Going to shed for eggs in the morning/Measuring the days and weeks by iceberg flow/Wind hitting air vents and propane tank box, rain through the window onto my bed/Clean, dry clothes/Time to think, time to play, time to wonder
From CT –
I always wanted to go to Antarctica without knowing why. I grew up in the subarctic and often went to school with icicles in my hair. I used to place one hand on the top of the globe and with the other spin it so quickly that the water and continents blurred together. What was that odd-shaped white continent down there on the bottom?
And later –
The Antarctica we experienced wasn’t quite paradise. Nor was it only snowy and barren, as imagined. It was surprisingly green in places, multinational, busy and complex. It was ancient and a frontier simultaneously.
There has been no war in Antarctica. This continent, for now, is reserved for dreaming and discovery.
I don’t know that I have done this book justice with my review. It touched so many places for me – connecting to landscape; solitude; pushing beyond comfort zones; the true beauty that humanity can be capable of. All of this occuring in a landscape beyond anything I have ever known, or loved, but somehow it sang to me. Find it, read it. I think you will be glad you did.