Monday, June 28, 2010
"Where the (Queen's) Law does not carry it is irrational to exact an observance of other and weaker rules." — Rudyard Kipling.
Confident of his good intentions but doubtful of his fortitude.
"So far as I can venture to offer and opinion in such a matter, the purpose of our being in existence, the highest object that human beings can set before themselves is not the pursuit of any such chimera as the annihilation of the unknown; but it is simply the unwearied endeavor to remove its boundaries a little further from our little sphere of action." — Thomas Huxley.
That's from his critical examination of The Origin of Species. Wilson's quest for embryonic life in the Emperor penguin to help push those boundaries is very much on my mind.
I miss the Crozier Party. Lectures have ceased during its absence so it is very quiet.
The Crozier party departed this morning in good spirits, their heavy load distributed on two 9-foot sledges. Ponting photographed them by flashlight and attempted to get a cinematographic picture by means of a flash candle. The film was a failure.
The pulling is going to be heavy out on the Barrier but there is nothing that can be done to stop them now.
This winter travel is a new and bold venture, but the right men have gone to attempt it. All good luck go with them!
Cannot sleep. Nightmares about walking off into the pitch black never to return. It has suddenly occurred to me that three of my best men have gone and might not come back. What if I lost Wilson! What would I say to Cherry's parents? How on earth would I be able to cope without Bowers? I can do nothing but sit and wait. I do hope it won't be long.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
With a clear sky it was quite twilighty at noon today.
I like the word "twilighty."
Already such signs of day are inspiriting.
Taylor gave a most interesting lecture on the physiographic features of the region traversed by his party in the autumn. His mind is very luminous and clear and he treated the subject with a breadth of view which was delightful. The illustrative slides were made from Debenham's photographs, many of them were quite beautiful. Ponting tells me that Debenham knows quite a lot about photography.
Preparations for the Crozier party are now complete and the people will have to drag 253 lbs per man -- a big weight.
We are certainly within measurable distance of using blubber in the most effective way for both heating and lighting, and this is an advance which is of very high importance to the future of Antarctic Exploration.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Cherry hard at work on The South Polar Times
Cherry-Garrard pausing for a moment while editing The South Polar Times
Have had two quiet, uneventful days recovering from our Midwinter Festival. And to be sure, our heads were quite sore. I suspect some bottles of champagne were secreted away for future use by some of our company.
I have made no mention of Cherry's publication of The South Polar Times, presented to me on Midwinter Day. We initiated it on the Discovery Expedition; a compendium of anonymously submitted vignettes and articles, illustrated throughout, and bound (in this case by Day) in venesta and seal skin. I have successfully guessed the identity of most of the contributors.
The literary merit of this little volume is really of a high quality, though of course full of witticisms applicable to our own party.
Had a serious talk with Wilson about his upcoming Crozier trip.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I am somewhat drunk.
The sun reached its maximum depression at about 2:30pm, Greenwich Mean Time. Dinner tonight is therefore the meal which is nearest the sun's critical change of course, and is being observed with all the festivity customary with Christmas at home.
At tea, we broached an enormous Buszard cake courtesy of Cherry.
We hung our Union Jacks and sledging flags from the roof above the table, which was laid with glass and a plentiful supply of champagne bottles. At seven we sat down to an extravagant bill of fare.
We began with our usual seal soup, by common consent the best decoction our cook produces, went on to roast beef with yorkshire puddings, fried potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. Then followed a flaming plum pudding and excellent mince pies, and thereafter a dainty savory of anchovy and cod's roe. A wondrous attractive meal even in so far as judged by our simple lights, but with its garnishments a positive feast, for which the table was strewn with dishes of burnt almonds, crystallized fruits, chocolates, and such toothsome kickshaws, whilst the unstinted supply of champagne which accompanied the courses was succeeded by a noble array of liqueur bottles from which choice could be made in the drinking of toasts.
Damn, I like to write long sentences when I've had a glass or two.
I screwed myself up to a little speech. I focused on this being our half-way mark and that people don't realize how soon time passes for preparation. We have come through a summer season and half a winter, and have before us half a winter and a second summer. I especially thanked Bowers and Oates. I said that as regards the future, chance plays a part, but that preparation is key. I thanked them all for putting their shoulders to the wheel and giving me this confidence.
We drank to the Success of the Expedition.
Then everyone was called upon to speak. All were entirely modest and brief; unexpectedly, all had exceedingly kind things to say of me—in fact I was obliged to request the omission of compliments at an early stage. Nevertheless it was gratifying to have a really genuine recognition of my attitude towards the scientific workers of the Expedition and I felt very warmly towards all these kind, good fellows for expressing it.
If good will and happy fellowship count towards success, very surely shall we deserve to succeed.
Everyone got very drunk. Oates was very humorous and insisted on dancing with Anton. Evans P. O. was full of theatrical gossip. Keohane wanted to talk Irish politics.
In the midst of the revelry, Bowers appeared with an enormous Christmas Tree whose branches bore flaming candles, crackers, and little presents for all. The tree was constructed by Bowers of sticks and colored paper.
Whilst revelry was the order of the day within our hut, the elements without seemed desirous of celebrating the occasion with equal emphasis and greater decorum. The eastern sky was massed with swaying auroral light, the most vivid and beautiful display that I have ever seen -- fold on fold the arches and curtains of vibrating luminosity rose and spread across the sky, to slowly fade and yet again spring to glowing life.
It is impossible to witness such a beautiful phenomenon without a sense of awe, and yet this sentiment is not inspired by its brilliancy but rather than its delicacy in light and color, its transparency, and above all by its tremulous evanescence of form. There is no glittering splendor to dazzle the eye; rather the appeal is to the imagination by something wholly spiritual, something instinct with a fluttering ethereal life, serenely confident yet restlessly mobile.
To the little silent group which stood at gaze before such enchantment it seemed profane to return to the mental and physical atmosphere of our house.
Thus, except for the hangovers, we ended the Festival of Midwinter.
We celebrated the birth of a season which for weal or woe must be numbered amongst the greatest in our lives.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Last night the temperature fell to -36, the lowest this year.
It was a beautiful day out of doors this morning; as the crescent moon was sinking in the west, Erebus showed a heavy vapour cloud.
I am glad to have had a good run on ski.
The Cape Crozier party are preparing for departure. I think Evan's new tent design is going to be a huge success and will go far to obviate the need for snow huts. Another new departure is the decision to carry eiderdown sleeping-bags instead of reindeer ones.
With such an arrangement the journey is bound to be comfortable, but when the bags get iced difficulties are pretty certain to arise.
Day has been creating a blubber stove. It will make a great difference to the party if they can manage to build a hut. With a satisfactory blubber stove it would never be necessary to carry fuel on a coast journey, and we shall deserve well of posterity if we can perfect one.
The Crozier journey will serve a number of ends. Each man is to experiment with a different food scale, with a view to determining the desired proportion of fats and carbohydrates. Wilson is also to try the effect of a double wind-proof suit instead of extra woolen clothing. The new crampons should also be a huge success.
Midwinter Day, the turn of the season, is very close; it will be good to have more light.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Temperature down to -28. It is calm and clear, at last. When the moon disappeared it was very dark out on the floe. Went out on ski across the bay.
Atkinson cut another fishing hole in the ice but I don't expect he'll catch much, and we won't miss fish on our menu.
Now that I feel more sociable, here is a description of how we spend our days:
Clissold is up at 7 to start breakfast.
At 7:30 Hooper sweeps the floor and sets the table.
Between 8 and 8:30 the men are out and about, fetching ice for melting. Anton feeds the ponies, Demitri sees to the dogs. Hooper bursts in on the slumberers giving them the time, (usually a quarter-hour ahead of what it really is). There is a stretching of limbs and morning greetings, garnished with sleepy humor.
Wilson and Bowers meet in a state of nature beside a washbasin filled with snow and proceed to rub glistening limbs with this chilling substance. A little late and with less hardihood some others may be seen making the most of a meagre allowance of water.
Soon after 8:30 I drag myself from a very comfortable bed and make my toilet with barely a pint of water.
At ten to 9 my clothes are on, my bed is made, and I sit down to my bowl of porridge. Most of the others are gathered around the table by this time, although a few laggards run the 9 o'clock rule very close. I place those who are late under some pressure to make them comply.
By 9:20 breakfast is finished, and the table cleared.
From 9:30 til 1:30 the men are employed on a programme of preparation for sledging. The repair of sleeping bags, alteration of tents, manufacture of provision bags, crampons, sealskin soles, pony clothes, &c.
Hooper has another good sweep after breakfast, washes the mess traps, and generally tidies things. I think it is a good thing that in these matters the officers need not wait on themselves; it gives long unbroken days of scientific work and must, therefore be an economy of brain in the long run.
We meet for our mid-day meal at 1:30, and spend a very cheerful half-hour over it. Afterwards, the ponies are exercised, weather permitting; this employs us all and provides us with our own exercise.
Afte this the officers go on steadily with their work whist the men do odd jobs to while away the time.
The evening meal, our dinner, comes at 6:30, and is finished within the hour. Afterwards people write, read, play games. The gramophone is usually started by some kindly disposed person, and on three nights of the week we have the lectures. They command full audiences and lively discussions.
At 11 the acetylene lights are put out, and those who wish to remain up must depend on candle light. The majority of those are extinguished by midnight, and the nightwatchman alone remains awake to keep his vigil by the light of an oil lamp.
Day after day passes in this fashion. It is not a very active life, perhaps, but it is not an idle one. Few of us sleep more than 8 hours of the 24. On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning some extra bathing takes place; chins are shaven, and perhaps clean garments donned.
Tonight Day has given us a lecture on his motor sledge. he seems very hopeful of success, but I fear is rather more sanguine in temperament than his sledge is reliable in action. I wish I could have more confidence in his preparations, as he is certainly a delightful companion.
Another blizzard — the weather is distressing. It ought to settle down soon, but unfortunately the moon is passing.
I wonder if that has anything to do with my mood?
Held the usual Morning Service but Hymns not quite successful today.
Tonight Atkinson has taken the usual monthly measurement. I do not think there has been much change.
The pony is quite recovered.
Tonight Debenham lectured on volcanoes. His matter is very good, but his voice a little monotonous, so there were signs of slumber in the audience, all all woke up for a warm and amusing discussion afterwards.
Did you know that almost no heat escapes from the sides of volcanoes?
We of course live next to one.
Why are volcanoes so close to the sea?
There are so many questions one has about volcanoes.
I should really have stayed awake.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Oates and Anton with two ponies outside the hut.
Spent an idle day.
James Pigg, the pony, had a bout of colic. he was taken out and doctored on the floe, which improved things, but he is off his feed.
I fear idleness, and it is something to admit to it here.
Oates just came in to tell me the pony is eating again. I hope all will be well.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Nelson at work in his lab.
Storms are giving us little rest. We found a thin stratus over the sky this morning, foreboding ill. The wind came with a rush, just after lunch.
Had a comfortless stroll around the hut; how rapidly things change when one thinks of the delights of yesterday! Paid a visit to Wright's ice cave; the pendulum is installed and will soon be ready for observation. The ice crystals in there are remarkably interesting.
This evening nelson gave his second biological lecture, starting with a brief reference to the scientific classification of organisms into Kingdom, Phylum, Group, Class, Order, Genus, and Species. He stated the justification of a biologist on such an expedition: "To determine the condition under which organic substances exist in the sea."
He then proceeded to state the obvious; that tiny vegetable organisms form the basis to all life. In the whale is a seal; in the seal a fish; in the fish a smaller fish; a copepod, a diatom. Since light is essential to vegetable life, and light quickly vanishes in depth of water, so all ocean life must depend on the phyto-plankton. To discover the conditions of this life is therefore to go to the root of matters.
He went on about recovery nets and deep water light studies. Bowers had us all laughing asking about the relationship of spiders to crustaceans.
Actually, Nelson is an exceedingly capable lecturer; he makes his subject very clear and is never too technical.
A very beautiful day. We reveled in the calm, clear moonlight. The temperature has fallen to -26.
In such weather the cold splendor of the scene is beyond description; everything is satisfying, from the deep purple of the starry sky to the gleaming bergs and the sparkle of crystals underfoot.
Some very brilliant patches of aurora over the southern shoulder of the mountain. Observed an exceedingly bright meteor shoot across the sky to the northward.
Debenham and Gran are back from Cape Armitage. On arrival at the hut they found poor little Mukaka coiled up outside the door, looking pitifully thin and weak, but with enough energy to bark at them. That dog was ruin over and dragged for a long way under the sledge runners when we were landing stores back in January. He hasn't worked much since, and was a miserable object, hair refusing to grow on his hindquarters. I didn't know he;d even been left at the Hut until a few days ago, and had given up hope of ever seeing the poor beast again. It is extraordinary to realize that this poor, lame, half-clad animal has lived for a whole month by himself. He had blood on his mouth when found, implying the capture of a seal, but how he managed to kill it and then get through its skin is beyond comprehension. Hunger drives hard.
I wonder what would happen to me under such conditions. I hope never to meet them.
The weather is not kind to us. Not much wind today, but the moon has been hidden behind stratus cloud. One feels horribly cheated in losing the pleasure of its light. I scarcely know what the Crozier party can do if they don't get better luck next month.
Wilson has chosen Bowers and Cherry to accompany him on this journey which was a condition of his accepting a place on the expedition. He insists on going out to Cape Crozier to the Emperor Penguin colony there to collect samples of embryos, which have never before been seen by man. But they will be traveling in the dead of Antarctic winter, in total darkness.
Debenham and gran have not yet returned; this is their fifth day of absence.
Bowers and Cherry went out to Cape Royds today to spend the night. Taylor and Wright walked there and back after breakfast this morning. They returned shortly after lunch. I went for two quick spins on the skis.
Evans has given us a lecture this evening on surveying. He was shy and slow, but very painstaking, taking a great deal of trouble with pictures. I took the opportunity to note hurriedly the few points to which I want attention especially directed. No doubt others will occur to me. I think I understand now very well how and why the old surveyors failed in their work.
Here are my points:
1) Every member of the Southern Journey ought to have in his memory the compass variations at every point in the journey so that they may obtain true courses from the compass. Compasses behave irregularly the nearer one gets to the Pole, of course.
2) He ought to know the true course from one depot to another.
3) He ought to be able to take an observation with a theodolite.
4) He should be able to work out a meridian altitude observation.
5) He could advantageously add to his knowledge the ability to work out a longitude observation or an ex-meridian altitude.
6) He should know how to read the sledgemeter.
7) He should note and remember the error of the watch he carries and the rate which is ascertained for it form time to time.
8) He should assist the surveyor by noting the coincidences of objects, opening out of valleys, new peaks, etc.
I suppose we better get a move on with having all the chaps learn this stuff.
Friday, June 11, 2010
A fine, clear morning, the moon now revolving well aloft and with full face.
Went out for a ski run this morning, which was bracing.
Cherry played the piano very well this morning and received much encouragement from the men.
Day by day news grows scant in this midwinter season; all events seem to compress into a small record, yet a little reflection shows that this is not the case. For instance, I have had at least three important discussions on weather and ice conditions today, concerning which many notes might be made, and quite a number of small arrangements have been made.
If a diary can be so inadequate here, how difficult must be the task of making a faithful record of a day's events in ordinary civilized life! I think this is why I have found it so difficult keeping a diary at home.
I wonder if this is how other explorers have felt.
Yet another blizzard. Simpson has been up all night pondering theories about this phenomenon. They are very complicated and involve lots of lines and clouds and areas marked A, B, and C.
Atkinson has found sleeping-sickness in a fish.
Now that we are nearly at mid-winter, I have decided to begin thinking about the details of next season's traveling equipment. The crampons, finnesko and an idea for a double tent have been discussed today. P.O. Evans and Lashly are delightfully intelligent in carrying out instructions.
You can bet your cotton socks Amundsen hasn't given his things as much thought as we have. He's probably just sitting out there on the ice twiddling his thumbs waiting for spring and trying to feed all those dogs.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The moonlight was so bright last night during a break in the clouds that one might have imagined daylight had returned!
Otherwise the web of stratus which hangs over us thickens and thins, rises and falls with very bewildering uncertainty. We want theories for these mysterious weather conditions; meanwhile it is annoying to lose the advantages of moonlight.
Went for a ski and passed three seals sleeping on the ice. Two more were killed near the bergs.
Looks like a blizzard coming in.
It feels suddenly old to be 43. Everyone else seems so very young. What have I yet done? What will I have done a year from now?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Didn't turn out till 1PM! I had the most cracking headache, due in large part to the consequences of being on duty, and not of the whiskey I sipped while on it.
Walked out to and around the berg in the bright moonlight, but clouds came up from the south.
Tried using my snow knife, which is coming on well. Debenham and Gran went off to Hut Point this morning; they should return tomorrow. Deb is particularly anxious to retrieve his fossil collection.
Am too shattered to write more and can't wait to lie down, quite frankly.
This morning I was somewhat tender-headed so didn't venture out till after lunch. It was a very beautiful day. Of course by this I mean we had lovely moonlight.
This evening I read a paper on "The Ice Barrier and Inland Ice." Everyone took such a genuine interest in the discussion that it went on close to midnight. I am going to keep this paper, which makes a very good bases for all future work on the subject.
Have also been sketching ice holes and shelters for Nelson to use.
It's my night for duty, so I am writing this in the silence. I won't get to go to bed until 7AM. Al pretty tired though.
Monday, June 7, 2010
My birthday! I thought everyone would forget, but they didn't! Sorry, but I've had a bit to drink.
So: begin with the weather, Con: Tonight the moon has emerged from behind the mountain and sails across the cloudless northern sky; the wind has fallen and the scene is glorious.
At lunch an immense birthday cake made its appearance and we were photographed all assembled around it. Clissold had decorated its sugared top with various devices in chocolate and crystallized fruit, flags, and photographs of myself!
After my walk I discovered that great preparations were in progress for a special dinner, and when the hour for that arrived we sat down to a sumptuous spread with our sledge banners hung about us. Clissold's especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and red currant jelly, fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate—such was our menu. For drink we had cider cup, a mystery not yet fathomed, some sherry and liqueur.
After this luxurious meal everyone was very festive and amiably argumentative. As i write there is a group in the dark room discussing politics; another one at one corner of the dinner table is airing views on the origin of matter, and the probability of its ultimate discovery; and yet another is debating military problems. The scraps of conversation that reach me sometimes piece together in a ludicrous fashion. Perhaps this is an effect of the mystery drink. Perhaps these arguments are practically unprofitable, but they give a great deal of pleasure to the participants. It is delightful to hear the ring of triumph in a voice. They are boys, all of them, but such excellent, good-natured ones; there has been no sign of sharpness or anger, no jarring note, in all these worldly contests; all end with a laugh.
This is what the table normally looks like.
By jove, I'm awfully sleepy.
I wonder what they'll do for me next year?
The air is misty with snow crystals.The temperature has risen to +16 tonight. Everything seems to threaten a blizzard which cometh not. What is to be made of this extraordinarily high temperature heaven only knows. Went for a walk over the rocks and found it very warm and muggy.
Taylor gave a paper on the Beardmore Glacier. Now I'm all interested in glaciation. I take issue with the word "glaciated" though and seek to set the record straight about its misuse in recent years. I hold that it refers to land wholly or partly covered with ice and snow. Others feel it should refer to land shaped by former ice action.
What do they know? Have they climbed the Beardmore?
No doubt I shall be proved right by history.
I have been helping Oates design pony blankets. The great thing is to get something that will completely cover the hindquarters.
Friday, June 4, 2010
A calm and beautiful day. It being a Sunday in 1911, here is a description of our day:
Breakfast is followed by a half hour or so selecting hymns and preparing for Service while the hut is cleared up. The Service, which as Captain, I lead; a hymn; Morning Prayer to the Psalms; another hymn; prayers from Communion Service and Litany; a final hymn and our special prayer. Wilson strikes the note on which the hymn is to start and I try to hit it with doubtful success. After church the men go out with their ponies.
Today Wilson, Bowers, Cherry and I had a go at building our first igloo. We couldn't figure out what to cut snow blocks with; Cherry had a knife I designed; Wilson a saw, and Bowers a large trowel. I'm inclined to think the knife most effective, but the others don;t acknowledge it yet. As far as one can see at present this knife should have a longer handle and much coarser teeth in the saw edge—perhaps also the blade should be thinner.
We must practice till we get good at it. I'm sure it's going to be a useful art.
We only did three courses of blocks by tea-time, and afterwards the light was too poor to continue.
Sunday afternoon I went for a ski out over the floe. Ponting has been out photographing them by flashlight. As i passed south of Inaccessible island I saw flashes of magnesium form his camera. It lit up everything like lightning for a great distance.
Note to Self: Use magnesium flashlight as a signaling device in the summer.
We also caught another crab-eater seal today.
Weather still puzzling: at 4AM the wind suddenly got up to 30 mph from a dead calm. Almost instantaneously, certainly within the space of a minute, the temperature rose 9 degrees! It is the most extraordinary and interesting example of a rise in temperature with a southerly wind that I can remember. It is difficult to account for. When the wind arose the sky overhead was clearer than I ever remember to have seen it, the constellations brilliant, and the Milky Way like a bright auroral streamer.
The wind has continued all day, making going outside unpleasant. Went for a walk over black rock. Have been digging away at food statistics.
Simpson has given us a lecture about his instruments. I like him. He is admirable as a worker, scientist, and lecturer.
I wonder if anyone will remember my birthday?
I am very puzzled by the meteorological conditions. The wind is still high but the drift stopped. The temperature is still high, about +7.
I wonder what kind of weather Amundsen is having out in the Bay of Whales. He's got more nerve than I to make his camp out on the sea ice, that's for sure.
It's my birthday soon. I'll be 43.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The wind blew hard all night, gusts reaching 72mph; the anemometer choked five times!
At least, when the wind is hard it improves our already good ventilation. Usually the action of fires serve to draw air and holes cut in our pipes remove foul air at higher levels. With all the men, cooking and smoking, this is very necessary. The condition of inside air must be a highly important factor in the preservation of health.
Today I regularized the pony names. Officially they are of course named after the schools which subscribed for their purchase. But you know sailors; they are inveterate nicknamers, and these have stuck.
Here follows the pony and school responsible for him, followed by the man to which he is assigned for walking.
James Pigg Invincible (HMS) Keohane
Bones South Hampstead Crean
Michael St. Paul's Clissold
Snatcher Bootham Evans (P.O)
Jehu Snooker King (individual sponsor)
Christopher Bedales Hooper
Victor Lydney Bowers
Snippets Floreat Etona (Eton)
Nobby Manchester Lashly
The sky was overcast this morning, and the temperature -13.
Went out after lunch on ski, but the surface was sticky except for where drifts were deep. There was an oppressive feel in the air and I got very hot, coming in with head and hands bare. At 5pm, out of dead calm, a wind suddenly sprang up from the south blowing 40 mph, and since then it has been blowing a blizzard. I have never known a storm come on so suddenly, and it shows what possibility there is of individuals becoming lost even if they only go a short way from the hut.
Tonight Wilson gave us a very interesting lecture on sketching. He says every line must be from observation; nothing superfluous. He raised a smile or two by generalizing the failures in sketches by others of our party which had been brought to him for criticism. he pointed out how much had been put in from preconceived notion. It's not enough to draw what you think should be there based on what you have seen previously: only what you see before you in the here and now. He is very modest.
He stands very high in the scale of human beings—how high I scarcely knew till the experience of the past few months. There is no member of our party so universally esteemed; only tonight I realize how patiently and consistently he has given time and attention to help the efforts of the other sketchers, and so it is all through; he has had a hand in almost every lecture given, and has been consulted in almost every effort which has been made towards the solution of the practical or theoretical problems of our Polar world.
The achievement of a great result by patient work is the best possible object-lesson for struggling humanity, for the results of genius, however admirable, can rarely be instructive.
The chief of the Scientific Staff sets an example which is more potent than any other factor in maintaining that bond of good fellowship which is the marked and beneficent characteristic of our community.
Spent the day at my physiological investigations concerning sledging rations.
Atkinson found another sea leopard at the tide crack; this proved to be a crab-eater, young and very active. In contrast to the one of yesterday, this was noisy indeed. Here he is with his mouth propped open.
It was beautifully calm and comparatively warm. It was good to hear the gay chatter and laughter of men out on the ice, and to see ponies and their leaders coming out of the gloom to add liveliness to the scene.
Another interesting this today was that Wilson and Bowers spotted a high cirrus cloud lit by sunlight. The sun is 9 degrees below the horizon at present.
Another beautiful calm day. Went out before and after the mid-day meal. This morning we went to see what my dog was making a fuss about - it turned out to be a seal leopard, the second found in the Strait this season. We were compelled to secure it as a specimen, but it was sad to have to kill it. The long lithe body of this seal makes it almost beautiful in comparison with our stout, boated Weddells. The poor beast turned swiftly from side to side as we strove to stun it with a blow on the nose. As it turned it gaped its jaws wide, but oddly enough not a sound came forth, not even a hiss. After lunch a sledge was taken out to secure the prize. Here it is:
Ponting has been making much use of his flashlight now that it's dark almost all the time. He's been working on scenes from around the hut, like this one of Oates and Meares sitting around the blubber stove in the stables. Oates can't abide having his photograph taken, so I imagine this was quite a trail for him as Ponting had to take many exposures to make sure he got it.
Tonight Ponting gave a charming lecture on Japan. He has traveled there extensively, and his book, In Lotus Land was published just as we sailed last year. He is happiest when describing the artistic side of people, so he showed us the flower pageants. We saw mountains and gardens and temples and Budddhas, volcanoes, craters, waterfalls. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.