On the Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station, Antarctica– Gretchen Legler

Okay, Antarctica is not technically a country but how cool is that I found a book about it? (Find the pun in this sentence 😉 )

Gretchen Legler travels to McMurdo Station and other places around the icy Antarctica, in search of stories of past explorers, current residents, and answers to her own struggles. She traveled to different bases. Had flights delayed because of storms. Explored ice caves. Experienced stunning beauty. And even jumped in the icy waters. (Yes, you read that right. I didn’t believe it when I read it.)

So, obviously it’s really cold in Antarctica. I’m from Buffalo, and it gives me the chills just thinking about it. But damn, the way Legler describes this frozen tundra is absolutely mesmerizing. It sounds like a beautiful dream. There were so many things I had to look up when reading. And honestly, I could write a list of things I’d like y’all to see. Maybe, I’ll throw some links down.

Probably the most interesting theme of this book is how every main stream concept simply disappears in Antarctica. Individuality, judgement, time, status, color, space, love, society, hierarchy. All of these structures either fade into the abyss or are so loose, they don’t seem prevalent. I can see why traveling here for a long period of time is so alluring. These constructs are the main contributors to our unhappiness.

Do I recommend this book? Hands down, yes. It’s captivating and an easy read. Plus, Legler’s use of “cold” words are amazing. Does this make me want to go to Antarctica? Surprisingly, yes! I mean I’ve got some other places on my list before the southern most continent, but I hope one day to set foot there.

♦♦ Culture Bit: Encounters at the End of the World ♦♦

While reading more about Antarctica, I found a couple documentaries that were recommended. One was on Netflix, and I decided to check it out. It’s call Encounters at the End of the World, and follows one man’s journey through Antarctica. He stops at many of the same places as Legler does, and brings a picture to many of the words she wrote. I think it’s worth the watch if you are interested in actually seeing what life is like in Antarctica.

The absolute best part of the documentary is when they film divers going under the ice and seeing some of the sea life that’s present. It really seemed like you were in a different part of the world.

I couldn’t help myself. Here’s some links to check out!

McMurdo Station
Scott’s Hut
Antarctic Ice Caves
Nacreous Clouds
Edward Wilson’s Watercolors

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