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While in Mactown, I debated about how often to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. The first thought I had was to eat as many as possible, kind of stock up for the deprivation ahead: we had all been asked to refrain from eating lots of "freshies", as they're called, and to let the outgoing winterovers get their fill as they hadn't seen any in 8 months. On the other hand, I thought, perhaps better to wean myself early, so the transition to winter isn't so hard.

Then my flight to pole was delayed almost a week, by which time freshies were open season. Funnily enough, I wasn't that interested in them, although I normally eat 2 or 3 pieces of fruit a day at home. There are vegetables at every meal, obviously frozen. In fact I pass the stacks and stacks of boxes every day out in the dome. (Most of the food is kept frozen out under the dome, outside the buildings. Every once in a while I see something interesting, something to remember for winter!) These, I reason, are enough to keep me from getting scurvy, as is the large public bottle of vitamin C next to the vitamin I (ibuprofen) by the microwave in the galley.

And then the bananas showed up. Ah, bananas. How I miss thee! I should revise my previous fruit intake estimate, I normally ate 2 bananas, a pear, a nectarine and an apple every day. All but the apple going into a smoothie. And I miss my bananas! Many of us here have eternal foot cramps from walking around. Walking on dry snow is similar to walking on the beach--your feet keep cuflexing and curling, trying to get a grip. You never fall but your feet work really hard to propel you along. The snow here is strange. About a foot down its frozen pretty solid, but the surface layer is like mashed potatoes--when I put my foot down the boot goes in all directions for a second before settling down. The worst is the "roadways" where all the cats and sprites drive--their treads churn up the snow into trenches that are just wide enough to catch the heel or toe and trip me, but not wide enough to just walk in.

The best place to walk is in the track of these large sleds they use to retreive cargo. They are about 10 feet wide and 30 or 40 feet long, holding 3 or 4 pallets (which are about 8'x8'x8'). They have two wide runners, and when loaded with pallets weigh enough to compact the snow into two wide, solid ribbons, great for walking!

The third walking experience is the sastrugi--little frozen waves of snow/ice that are formed by wind blowing the snow. The path out to the seismic vault is never traversed by anyone else, so its generally all sastrugi when I walk out there. There is a thin crust of frozen snow, but once I put my weight on my foot it breaks through that and sinks several inches. As the little waves stick up its also easy to twist an ankle with careless foot placement. During the whiteout I was stumbling constantly--its nearly impossible to see the edges of the sastrugi in a flat white light with no shadows!

So, the other night I was sitting at midrats when the cook came out and announced there were freshies on the late flight that had just landed. We all dropped our forks and ran outside to help unload. (Whenever there is a load of freshies or package mail someone makes an all call and people come over to unload the DNF (do not freeze). No all calls are allowed after 10 PM.) People form a human chain up to the "freshie shack" and start passing boxes up. The freshie shack is an interesting concept. Its a refrigerator, but its job is to keep the items *warm* instead of freezing! Freshies and beer and pop live inside. And yes, you guessed it, we got bananas on that load! We also got about 6 gallons of real whipping cream, which I can't wait to eat at our Thanksgiving dinner Saturday night!


copyright 2000 Andrea Grant

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