Last night was “open mic” here at Palmer Station. The cozy lounge with the leather chairs and book cases was transformed into a theater, complete with drums, electric guitars, microphones, and a keyboard.
It was an amazing display of talent; at least half the station either plays an instrument or sings or composes or writes incredibly clever lyrics and have skills other than their professional reason to be here. It made me feel drab and gray!
MBL research assistant Dan Whiteley, for example, composed the funniest acappella rap, about a minor accident on board an inflatable boat–the “zodiac attack.” A still-nameless band, led by engineer Brian Nelson, performed the fastest Michael Billie Jean ever. A fellow journalist, NPR science Producer Jason Orfanon, who plays in a rock band in Washington, DC, sang one of his own compositions and played keyboard. Even our pi, MBL ecologist Chris Neill, graciously crooned Barrett’s Privateers, a Canadian folk song by Stan Rogers.
These folks at Palmer are having too much fun. The windows had to be covered with black trash bags to keep out the sun (it was late after all) despite one of Antarctica’s splendid sunsets. Inside the bar (which has a billiard table, a disco, and walls covered with pictures of visiting ships from the past) the evening proceeded with beers and shots with cool names I forgot already.
Palmer — its atmosphere and lifestyle — gets under your skin. I like the call names for the boating parties, which change every day: Titanic (for our first outing), Ice Crusaders, Gorman’s Down Jacket, Campers, and of course, as of last night, Zodiac Attack.
It is snowing now and seven Adelie penguins adorn the rocks, and three or four gentoos. The increasing number of the gentoos in these parts means, according to bird experts Kristen Gorman and Jen Blum, that sea ice has been melting. As it does, it leaves open spaces that the normally more northern gentoos need to forage as they porpoise through the surface of the seas. Adelies, on the other hand, have it tougher since they need the ice to rest on as they come and go to their feeding areas.
Time to stop writing and get into the hot tub. With the snow falling it will be quite an experience.