Antarctic bayou

It's that time of year. Canada geese swoop down from the north and splash in the pond in my back yard. In a few days, after honking, feeding, and preening incessantly, of a sudden, they'll fly off - south.

Today's cover story is about bearing south as well. Only way south, South Pole south and the continent of Antarctica. It is summer of sorts down there. However, goose-down clothing is not just welcome, but necessary.

Of course, escaping a New England winter for Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica (see story right) is the equivalent of jumping out of a cold shower into a freezer. Warm isn't going to happen anytime of year.

The South Pole is probably the most uninhabitable environment on the planet.

Alexander Colhoun knows the Antarctic. He lived there for two summer seasons before joining the Monitor.

November starts four months of constant daylight. The colors blue and white dominate experience. The relatively mild weather, very relative, allows a window for the transport of supplies, people, and equipment.

Why do people go to such solitary places? Adventure certainly, and a sense of discovery. The pursuit of science also. And probably, like Ishmael in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," to get away from too much humanity, to test one's mettle as far from civilization as possible.

Polar cold, like open sea, is unforgiving. The elements are taskmasters of the sternest sort.

When the geese come back in the spring, from whichever Louisiana bayou they chose to warm webbed feet, thanks to Alexander, I'll have a deeper appreciation for travels south.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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