Archive for June, 2010

Spinning Yarn: This is the Truth #10

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

    It is almost 100 years since Ernest Shackleton and his men sailed the Endurance into history. And it is not quite 90 years for the rest of the Antarctic Explorers from the Heroic Age. Look at us now! Passenger ships full of tourists visit Antarctica in the southern summer.

 There is no way I am a professional explorer, nor do I have extensive experience in Polar Regions, yet come the end of this year, in December, I embark on my own trek to the frozen continent. I do have a sense of adventure, I guess. When I tell people I will be going to Antarctica, reactions are mixed – some say “Wow! I have always wanted to go there! Can I come too?”, while others say, “What do you want to go there for- it’s cold!”  I say, BRING IT ON.

 Geographically, Antarctica is still remote, and isolated. It takes a bit of effort to get there — many people make the first leg of their journey from South America, and travel to the Antarctic Peninsula. My trip, however,  leaves from our other neighbour, New Zealand. Dunedin, actually.

 Spiritually, Antarctica  is very close to the hearts of many people, including me. Australia claims the major part of it due to the work and exploration of Sir Douglas Mawson and his Expedition. My heart and spirit hear the ice calling to me, and so,  I GO.

Spinning Yarn: The Mawson connection #9

Monday, June 28th, 2010

   On the Australian $100 note, Sir Douglas Mawson looks out onto a modern world. He is wearing a balaclava that his wife knitted for him. There, in the middle of the forehead, she deliberately dropped a stitch, to show him that even imperfect things are useful, and important.

 I do not know if she spun the wool herself first, but the garment was made with the love she had for him, a connection so valuable and tangible – his lifeline. No doubt it helped save his life and greatly contributed to his safe return from Antarctica.

Spinning yarn in the practical sense is a satisfying thing to do. Creating the yarn and the garment is a process that brings you closer to the person who will wear the result, because it is made with love. Artists feel the same about their work, too I would imagine: they put part of their soul into a visible and tangible form, be it painting or sculpture, and it is there for all to see and admire. Spinning yarn has the added quality of warmth and personality.

Spinning Yarn: Winnipeg #8

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

   When Dad was in the Army (2RCR), there was one point where we were posted to Fort Churchill on the Arctic Circle. Not there long before he was then transferred to Winnipeg, on the Prairies, in Manitoba. I was about 4 years old.

 A four year old does not understand wind-chill factors, and instantly frozen skin. She also does not understand that, desperate to go outside to play, any number of tantrums will not change Mum’s mind! I remember not being allowed to go outside for days at a time.

 Mom put out meals in our freezer – which happened to be the back porch – and had to package them in meal size portions so they would not take so long to thaw out before cooking. No instant meals in those days. Polar bears did not much like eating frozen food, either!

 I also remember washday. The clothesline was a pulley cord anchored to the house on one end and to a telephone pole down the length of the backyard on the other. Mom washed a load of towels once, she pegged and pushed the towels out one at a time, waited five minutes and then brought then all back in again- frozen dry!  Then she SNAP folded them into the cupboard.

Spinning Yarn: Who needs a Time Machine? #7

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Antarctica is the only place on Earth where you can walk into history and actually be there! It is a pioneer place preserved by God, and Ice, in the exact same way the Explorers saw and lived it. Their buildings are still there. It remains untouched.

 My connection with history is one of the heart. As a spinner, I am preserving a pioneer skill, one with practical application and one with loving connections to the people of the past. What better place to show that connection than to physically return to the location of the last century and join them there?

We all have a yearning to belong to something, some group or community. We understand ourrselves when we understand our origins. It gives a sense of security and of ‘one-ness’ that awakens our sense of purpose. My trip to the fozen south gives me an unexplained sense of Destiny. And it is exciting!

Spinning Yarn: Time Capsule #6

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

 The Heroic Age of Exploration focuses on Antarctica at the turn of the last century 1900- 1025. It is during this time that all the famous names that we associate with the frozen continent – Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, Mawson, Dumont D’urville – began in –- shall I say — “Ernest” to visit and explore.

 Bringing the State of the Art equipment of the times, they began to unlock the secrets of the polar region while fighting for their very survival in the most arduous and trying conditions provided by a land that was encouraging their deaths. And some did die.

 There is much history in Antarctica.

Spinning Yarn: Yukon style #5

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Four years ago, I returned to Canada and part of that experience was to be in the Yukon – to walk the streets of Dawson, capitol of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1890. I fancied picking up a small nugget of gold from the sidewalk (translation: footpath) just as they imagined that they would do. No gold, but I did find a lovely normal sparkly rock to bring home.

 Back in the gold rush days, because everyone had nuggets, it was paper money that was so scarce!

 Dawson is into spinning yarn, historical yarn. It is an historic working town full of opposites. For example, the bank has the old equipment on show, with the modern computers that do the real accounting hidden under the benches. The Post Office has the pioneer photos of the people of the times desperate for news of home, hanging above the modern mailboxes. The faces are tinged with despair, covered in mud and most desperately tired. This all makes it very easy to be in 1890.

 There may be no electricity 20kms out of town, but there is an internet café on the main street! Such is the mix of past and present in the Yukon. How will it be in Antarctica?

Spinning Yarn: Dream Realized #4

Friday, June 18th, 2010

  When Dad passed from this life 2 Christmases ago, he left behind a treasure of unconventional riches. He always encouraged me to be daring and, was proud of all my rural-type adventures and projects, which includes wool classing, shed handing and teaching about fibre and spinning yarn. Dad gave me every support.

 A military man through and through, Dad’s treasure consisted of books and equipment, uniforms and armament, army manuals, furniture and many artifacts in a military theme, including his Campaign Medals. Also a horseman, he left behind all the equipment and leathers, references and all things horse, including 2 four-footed living animals, who miss him still.

 Dad lived his dream. Antarctica is my dream and he has made it possible for me.  I feel sure he would be quite chuffed to know that I will be cruising there this December.

Spinning Yarn: Special Support #3

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Spinning Yarn: Special Support

 There can be no doubt that the Polar Regions are extreme. In the North, the hardy people of the Yukon endure 9 months of darkness and temperatures of -40º and -50ºC.  In the South, people there endure a shorter time of darkness and temperatures of an even more intense cold of -70ºC and more.

 My Dad has given me the chance to visit Antarctica. To be there for even the briefest of time (3 days landfall) will give me a very small taste of Nature’s extremes, an idea of the hardships faced and an insight into the indomitable Human Spirit.

  I will visit the most dangerous place on Earth.

Spinning Yarn: A South Pole Journey #2

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

There is something magnetic, and for me something restoring about the desert. Life struggles so valiantly in such extremes of adversity and it makes me wonder how things survive, how people have survived and — how I will survive.

Antarctica has always fascinated me. Being from Canada and used to cold winters, and snow and ice, it is part of my heritage to be drawn to the wilderness. The Yukon is an amazingly harsh place – frozen for 9 months of the year. Unforgiving yet beautiful; bleak and yet green (in the summer) while all the time hiding a harshness that the hardiest of people – people with strength of mind, strength of character and strength of will to survive – must endure.

Do I have these qualities?

Hello world! #1

Thursday, June 10th, 2010