Thursday, September 23, 2010

18 August, 1911

Atkinson lectured on Scurvy last night. He spoke clearly and slowly, and the disease is anything but precise. He gave a little summary of its history and the remedies long in use in the Navy.

He described the symptoms in some detail. Mental depression, debility, syncope, livid patches, spongy gums, lesions, swellings, and so on to things that are worse. He thinks it is due to increased acidity in the blood, after Sir Almroth Wright's theories.

The diagnosis does not bring us much closer to a remedy. Atkinson holds that the first cause is tainted food, but also damp, cold, over-exertion, bad air, bad light, in fact every condition exceptional to normal existence. In terms of diet, fresh vegetables are the best curatives-- the lecturer was doubtful of fresh meat, but admitted its possibility in the polar climate; lime juice only useful if regularly taken.

Wilson is slow to accept his theories, putting it all down to "non proven." His remarks were extremely sound and practical as usual. He proved the value of fresh meat in the polar regions.

Scurvy seems very far away from us this time, yet after our Discovery experience, one feels that no trouble can be too great or no precaution too small to be adopted to keep it at bay.

It is certain we shall not have the disease here, but one cannot foresee equally certain avoidance in the southern journey to come. All one can do is take every possible precaution.

I pity the Norwegians with their dreary white plain of Barrier Island behind and and uninviting stretch of sea ice in front. With no landmarks, nothing to guide if the light fails, it is probably that they venture but a short distance from their hut.

17 August, 1911

The weather has been extremely kind to us of late; we haven't a single grumble against it. The temperature hovers pretty much at about -35, there is very little wind and the sky is clear and bright. In such weather one sees well for more than three hours before and after noon, the landscape unfolds itself, and the sky colors are always delicate and beautiful. At noon today there was bright sunlight on the tops of the Western Peaks and on the summit and steam of Erebus - of late vapour cloud of Erebus has been exceptionally heavy and fantastic in form.

The wretched Lassie has killed every one of her litter. She is mother for the first time, and possible that accounts for it. When the poor little mites were alive she constantly left them, and when taken back she either trod on them or lay on them, till not one was left alive. It is extremely annoying.

Everyone is busier than ever. It is good to see so much work going on.

15 August, 1911

The acetylene has failed! Thus I am writing by daylight. This is a novelty!

Lassie gave birth to six or seven puppies last night - we are keeping them as warm and quiet as possible in the stable.

It is very pleasant to note the excellent relations which our young Russians have established with other folk; they both work very hard, Anton having the most to do. Demetri is the more intelligent and begins to talk English fairly well. Both are on the best terms with their messmates, and it was amusing last night to see little Anton jamming a felt hat over P.O. Evans' head in high good humor.

Wright lectured on Radium last night. Seems it might have some application as a curative power.

14 August, 1911

We have had two delightfully calm days since the storm passed through. We have taken the opportunity to exercise the ponies when there are a few hours of light at midday. Clissold has taken two of the dogs in hand and drove them out to Cape Royds yesterday with 100lbs of biscuit; they did well, considering Meares had written them off.

We had a splendidly successful balloon  ascent yesterday. Nelson and Atkinson are doing good work.

My afternoon walk has become a great pleasure; everything is beautiful in this half light and the northern sky grows redder as the light wanes.

11 August, 1911

I wish I could tell you the story Oates ended his lecture with last night! It was very funny indeed but quite unprintable so you'll never know.

The blizzard we expected came in the night; it is still blowing hard.

My thought creep much back to the temperate climes of England, where the midsummer must be lovely.

10 August, 1911

The Soldier is going to give his lecture tonight on Horse Management.

I suppose he shall address our concerns regarding picketing and snow blindness.

I don't feel much like writing lately.