The past few days have been spent largely away from camp, with skidoo trips South from Explorers Cove, across uninterrupted miles of sea ice towards the Herbertson Glacier where we're in the process of melting a new dive hole. The environment is remote, pristine, and dramatically different from the landscape surrounding our New Harbor camp.
I couldn't imagine a more spectacular or peaceful place to pitch a tent (this is it, on the right-hand side of the photograph), let alone fall asleep and wake to.
Getting the dive hole started has not been a straight-forward process. Moments away from breaking through the 18 - 21 feet-thick ice into water - six drill flights down - the flights froze into the slush and quickly became immovable. So, it was back to the drawing board to come up with a recovery strategy. Fortunately, this is a resourceful team of highly-experienced men and women for whom no task seems too daunting. It wasn't long before a plan of action was decided on and implemented - and the 'melt' is back on track again. Exercises such as this one away from home require round-the-clock monitoring, so we're scheduled to be out there in pairs for eight-twelve hour shifts in order to keep an eye on things. We have to check the Hotsy (a large coiled copper immersion heater) every four-six hours; routine-wise, it's not unlike having a hungry newborn in the family.
Travel to and from the site is exhilarating, but tough on the body. Our old skidoos are noisy, heavy vehicles to drive and the terrain, hard, bumpy and unforgiving. But, oh my goodness - you wouldn't believe the beauty.
Sam and I packed a selection of Katherine's and Christina's porcelain pieces up before heading out yesterday, hoping we'd find some time to photograph them, perhaps play them out there in the wilderness. We lined the carry/kit-box on the back of the skidoo with extra jackets, bear paw mitts and fleece garments, wrapped the bells and wee Euclidian shapes in layers of tissue paper and bubble wrap, then held our breath hoping they'd survive the hard drive intact. They did, and how exquisite and congruent the ensuing dialogue between porcelain and place... During the hours between Hotsy duty and sleep, we introduced these fragile pieces to a waiting wonderland - a veritable theatre of visual and auditory treats opened up. Time simultaneously slowed right down and accelerated during those absorbing few hours of filming and recording.
It's an incredible privilege to be collaborating like this with such stellar people (both here - in situ - and further afield). At times like this, work is grit, sweat, dance, journey and reflection.
Rumi (1207 - 1273) wrote -
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you how it's enough.
Last night, on the shin of the ice-covered mountain, I was sure I heard a reed flute playing.