Monday, January 17, 2011

South Pole

I do not have the easy gift of writing about cold. New England winter still has the ability to surprise me. Opening the storm door this morning to get the newspaper from the front steps, I encountered something stern.

At times there is a blizzard and at times there is 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Friends living farther north may smile reading that temperature. I prided myself on being ready for last week's blizzard. I was not ready this morning for 11 degrees.

I have sat recent evenings reading by lamplight, a cable knit throw over my legs, feeling cozy as I looked out the window at the snow-covered rooftops across the street. Moonlight made them blue like a ghostly winter graveyard.

The curious thing is that I spent a good part of December working through a book set in arctic landscapes. I had weighed the 600 pages in my hands at the start of reading The Last Place on Earth, Roland Huntford's carefully researched narrative of Amundsen and Scott's race for the South Pole. Defying notions about the things I like to read, I determined that I would make that trek into a topic that was largely unfamiliar to me. I wanted to read about setting off for the unknown and returning victorious -- or not.

A number of people I know who did not read Huntford's book had watched the PBS miniseries based on it. Having completed my read, I let Netflix tantalize me and ordered the seven episodes, full of the yelping of those marvellous dogs. It proved unorthodox holiday fare but satisfying.

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