Light snow is falling Calgary today and for some unknown reason this got me going into the files I have of newsletters I wrote for the guys at Scott Base in 1968/69. As a news junkie by profession, I really missed getting or producing a daily newspaper. That’s how I decided to wrap together a few snippets our Post Office techies could glean off the radio with some stuff of what was happening around the base. I had a slightly selfish motive for my typewritten news sheet as I figured it would help me keep up with the the comings and goings of base activity and the real reason I was part of the team for the New Zealand Antarctic Research Program that summer: to get new items back to the New Zealand media. The first page was always news from New Zealand and perhaps significant items from overseas and the second page was the happenings of the people involved in New Zealand’s Antarctic endeavours.
I’m putting a chapter together in my book summarising some of the interesting events and also using the newsletter nuggets as excellent memory joggers.
One event I had completely forgotten until this week had nothing whatsoever to do with the summer scientific program but everything to do with how guys spent their time doing interesting things.
November 8 was far from a warm (southern) spring/summer day. The temperature was around minus 20 deg C with the wind wavering up and down to around the usual 22 knots. The big news of the day was the arrival of New Zealand’s largest airlift of supplies for the season. A Super Constellation aircraft brought six tons of scientific equipment and food with most of the equipment destined for the new winter-over base at Lake Vanda in the Wright Dry Valley. But tucked into the events around the base was a story I also wrote for the New Zealand media about Keith Mandeno, a lab technician,who set about growing a few plants in the tiny laboratory hut which adjoined the photographic darkroom I used.
Keith liked to potter around with plants and had asked his mother to send something down from her Auckland, New Zealand, home. The result was six pots arrived, some from the home garden and some from a local plant merchant who “guaranteed” to send plants anywhere.
You can imagine the conversation Keith’s mother had with the plant mnerchant when she told him to send the plants to Scott Base, Antarctica. He thought she was joking at first but he cheerfully accepted the challenge and sent all the plants south free of charge. It was no mean feat. The plants had to be packaged and shipped in such a way to travel from Auckland to Christchurch where they would wait for a suitable airlift to McMurdo Sound. The plants, two Lily of the Valley, a rose and a variegated ivy arrived in good shape. All Keith had to do was to keep them growing.
Unfortunately my report ends there. I never did find out how the plants survived in that foreign indoor environment.
(a continuing story)