Monday, June 21, 2010

19 June, 1911

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.

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