Somehow it’s already March. As I sit here contemplating packing up my bits and pieces, I wonder how this came to be. Then, upon reviewing my calendar notes and browsing through a multitude of photos, I realise that so much stuff has taken place over the last four-and-a-bit months.
When I mentioned I’d write this wrap–up of my Casey experience, I was asked to include the term ‘emotional roller–coaster'. However, you all know I’m way classier than that (…err, cough), so any clichés have been demoted to paragraph five. Digression complete…
On arriving at Wilkins runway near the end of October — which simultaneously feels like yesterday and a few years ago — I was not sure what to expect from my first visit to ‘the ice'. I was confident I’d survive and do my job well but would I enjoy it as much as I hoped? After all, I’d been wanting this for a long time. Fast forward to the last couple of weeks, in the twilight of my residency and I’ve been increasingly feeling the intangible pull that results in so many people returning — becoming ‘repeat offenders’ as they are affectionately dubbed.
Knowing that I’ll soon be home is a surreal feeling, but then again the entire Casey experience has been that way. I never get bored of seeing the icebergs in the distance as I look out my bedroom window. I never get bored of walking up Reeve Hill and looking at the snow cliffs, hoping to see a large chunk fall into the water for my entertainment. I never get bored of the Adélie penguins and their slightly bizarre, yet adorable antics. Equally important, I never get bored of the people or my job.
Taking off the rose–tinted glasses, not every second has been glorious, there have been some tough and challenging moments but I never expected it to be perfect. Nonetheless, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and clichéd terms like enriching, or empowering seem appropriate. The common–man may even say it’s been an emotional roller coaster. There’s also something hypnotic about this paradoxical environment, where everything, yet nothing, changes. I sometimes wrestle in my mind as to whether this existence is reality or not. I’ve concluded that it is, albeit very different to the mainstream idea of reality.
There are things about home I’m looking forward to, so it’s by no means a feeling of impending doom associated with my departure. Back home I’ll be able to catch up with family and friends, and wander up Cleveland street to my favourite kebab shop — all without taking a radio or writing my travel details on the intentions board. Oh yeah, I’ll have a decent internet connection too. Luxury! I’m gonna have YouTube clips running on six browsers simultaneously, just because I can.
Although my brain is now in ‘going home mode', for a hardy group of 25 or so, these are early days, as they get prepared for another eight months here. I’m by no means a social butterfly, but I’ve got to know a lot of the crew and will miss the friendship. With complete sincerity I can say that the people inhabiting this unusual place are all genuinely decent — fun, intelligent, and understanding. Some of them probably also enjoy candlelit dinners and walks along the beach at sunset, but that’s just speculation.
At this point I’ll veer away from the sentimental fool path, and finish by offering thanks to all those who made the summer great, and good luck to the ‘winterers’ who will keep this place in good shape for the next lot of suckers, err summer folk. Just keep your dirty mitts off the Met office cheese stockpile!
Jake (Senior MET forecaster)