October has long been a favorite month and now with the Oct 1 publication of my first book, THE ENTIRE EARTH AND SKY, it has vaulted to my most favorite of months and seasons.
TEES is a kaleidoscope view of the people, histories, science, facts, and myths that all get rolled around when we talk about Antarctica. I went there in 1988 for the first time as a reporter on a Greenpeace ship. Since that January morning when I first saw the ice rising through a strange haze, after seven hard days sail from New Zealand, I have thought about Antarctica every day. I wake in the morning and gaze at slides I shot over three trips there -- particularly those that show the marvelously adapted wild life -- penguins as well as birds that still fly. Humpback whales nonchalantly raising a flipper or turned onto one side and gazing at me with an eerily human eye. All set against a backdrop of ice, ice mostly bright blue, grey, muted in intensity -- except when the sun shines and then the whole place lights up better than the Emerald City.
I muse about penguins in one section of TEES -- hard to believe that when I went south, the only real contact I had with them came via cartoons -- Chilly Willy, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Opus.
The day began like any other, chasing my children, Will and Helena to the breakfast table and then to their respective schools. So mundane, a day like any other. Why do the special days look like all the rest. No one in my household remembered that this was THE day, largely because there have been so many "soft" big days for the past several years. There was the big day I became a Fulbright Fellow and headed off to New Zealand with the children for a year of Antarctic research. The big day Nebraska agreed to publish the book. The big day the galleys arrived, etc. So, I cannot blame my family for being ever so slightly blase about today.
I taught graduate design students on this October morning, and we met for class outside to consider the public art project called Cool Globes, which is installed along San Francisco Bay. The final chapter of my book takes a look at scientists and explorers talking about Antarctica's future. It's not good news but I will get into that in another post, on a day less imbued with book joy. (Selfish human trait: Warming cast aside by my own feeling of warmth in this moment. The future can wait.) What we know is that parts, such as the Peninsula, are warmer than ever and melting. What we also know is that parts are also colder than ever. However. There are also signs of "stress" in icy areas usually free of such things -- stress in this case being the early warning signs of melting, such as pooling water atop ice shelves.
So. I announced my big day rather immodestly to students who cheered for me as we sat in the hot sun, not so very far from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Then I walked back up the hill and over the dunes to my home. I had what I always eat for lunch: Lentil soup. To celebrate today, I added in a few candy corn.
After that, I sat down at my desk and worked on the next book, HERE IS WHERE WE WALK. The other night, one of my writing students asked what it felt like to be "done" with a book. I couldn't answer in any helpful way. I guess I understand now why people are so eager to talk about what they are working on "now" in the current reality, than reflecting back on what they made in another time.
Causes Leslie Roberts Supports
Environmental causes of all stripes