On May 27, 2008, I will step out of the cozy room where I spin my tales of the dark, and will catch a plane headed south. South, beyond the pyramids of Yucatan, the mysteries of the Nazca Plains, the ruined cities of the Incas. South, and further south to a seaport at the end of the Earth. My compatriots and I expect it will be dark there, and bitter cold, for winter will be underway. But not so dark or so cold as our destination, the great Weddell Sea of Antarctica, which we will traverse for a month, never setting foot on land, never in all that time laying eyes on the sun for more than a twilit hour or two at a time.
How odd this seems. Because I am no adventurer. I’m an ordinary person with a taste for quiet rooms, quiet thoughts, books, a fire in the hearth, a pleasant drink with family and friends. I like sunshine, or the lights on, because light leaves less to the imagination. I wake up with bad dreams. I get seasick. How could someone like me ever be drawn into such an undertaking?
Beginning February 1, 2008, please join me for the answers to this and other curious questions as I embark on the first of two voyages aboard the National Science Foundation’s icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer. Who knows what we will find beneath the ice and in our fragile souls?