Thursday, May 27, 2010
Distances are deceptive in Antarctica
Many Antarctica observers remark how the extraordinarily clear dry atmosphere, white on white environment, and months of nonstop daylight, combine to make it very hard to judge distances. What appears to be a mountain range on the horizon turns out to be a crevasse a few steps later. The welcome sight of a tent or hut seeming only an hour's walk away, is in fact tomorrow's destination.
A couple of weeks ago I had a little frisson of almost finished anticipation. I was sure that by the weekend I would be attaching the white continent to its background blanket, and soon after that I'd be lacing the finished embroidery to its backing board. I purchased what I thought would be the final dozen skeins of DMC blanc. I rushed around to get the mounting materials in place.
I remembered that the reason I work from the smallest, highest contour out towards the coastline, is because it's really tricky handstitching in the middle of unstretched fabric. And so I decided to delay attaching Antarctica to the Southern Ocean until the last possible stage of stitching.
I noticed the extent of almost invisible basting done six months ago to mark the boundary between coast and shelf ice and remembered there are still nation-state-sized land-masses to cover in blanket stitch before I reach the sea.
I worked out that not only am I not nearly finished, but I have to put aside Antarctica (where? how?) to complete some other work with deadlines looming, which I had thought I'd knock off once Snow Queen was out of the way.
You would think that here in Hamilton I would be safe from Antarctican distance delusions. But it seems that my total immersion in the Antarctica of my imagination and my creation has unanticipated verisimilitude with the real thing.