Date: 25 November 2011
“It blew and blew and when he thought it could blow no more the wind picked up and it blew some more!”
The bright yellow polar tents greeted their old friend from the south by quivering in excitement. Each gust tug, tug, tugging at the cold metal tent pegs firmly hammered home into the frozen scoria at Cape Royds.
As the Tormentor violently shook the tent canvas, the guy ropes hung like the rigging in a sailing ship riding out a storm in the roaring forties. BLOW YOU *#@#* BLOW! If we could only reef in the sails so we could get some sleep. Peace, peace.
After unrelenting days of being buffeted you feel like screaming into the cold face of the Tormentor, STOP! But your words would only get carried away in the next gust before they can be heard. Frayed canvas and frayed nerves, tired but unable to get a restful night’s sleep, never asleep or never awake as the tent flaps against your sleeping bag cocoon. In this slumberland you can’t help but ponder the thought of the thin canvas fabric being ripped away leaving you exposed and naked to the elements while your cold weather clothing is whipped across the thin white frozen skin of the Ross Sea.
The wind stops as suddenly as it starts, the loud silence is a foreigner in the field camp. Only the chatter of the neighbouring Adelie penguins can be heard. It will be impossible to get to sleep with this deathly silence. Every slight movement, cough or scratch will be amplified to the field camp in the stillness of the night, all privacy lost.
Where is the crazy Tormentor from the south? No-one to sing and sway us to sleep tonight. Then there is a gentle breeze, a cold lick to the cheek, followed by the first gust from the south. Once again the tents begin to quiver in excitement. Welcome back my friend from the south. WELCOME BACK. It’s a love hate relationship we have.