It's only taken me ten days to stitch the 1500m contour. Sooner than I expected, I find myself at the edge of the plateau and the way off is steep and treacherous. I'll be adding the final countours even faster I think; a downhill race if all goes well; or a bum-shredding slide if things get twitchy.
My poor health of the past week has helped the acceleration by excusing me from almost every activity except work and Antarctica. My normally passionate relationship with food has been betrayed, so that I have a more visceral response than usual to reading about starving Heroic Age explorers.* As Shackleton, Wild, et al march to the 89th parallel on half rations (1909), I am drifting through my days on mint tea and honey and not much more. They were glad for a sparse meal of old horse-blood gravy after months of half rations. I may be fantasizing about chocolate gateau but I nervously approach even miso soup.
I'd miss food more if I was so sick I couldn't stitch, but fortunately embroidery is one of the few activities that doesn't make me feel worse. As it is, less time spent shopping, cooking and eating means more time for stitching. Hurrah!
But looking down the steep, slick, icy slope towards my destination, I have mixed feelings.
I don't want to finish my Antarctica, because then it will be over. I'm in love and never want this stitching to end.
I do want to finish my Antarctica because I am looking forward to getting to work on other (related) projects.
I don't want to finish my Antarctica because when I'm done stitching, I'll have to deal with hanging, photographing, packing, storing, shipping, pricing, naming and showing a really big, unconvential, artwork that from a distance will look like a pale blob.
I do want to finish my Antarctica because will be a big, bold, meaningful piece and I want it to have an impact on the people who see it.
I don't want to finish my Antarctica because I always love my own art most while I am making it, and least as soon as I have finished it. My love affair will be over and I fear for a broken heart.
*Currently engrossed in a somewhat irritating account of Shackleton's 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition.