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6 November, 1999

Antarctic Inspiration

Ever since I read Antarctic Navigation when I was out cold with pneumonia three years ago, a small part of me has been pulled thousands of miles away from the place I call home. I wasn't able to shake the thought of a frozen desert from my mind, though I admit I didn't try too hard. I knew if I searched long enough, I'd eventually find a way to get to the ice. The TEA program presented itself almost accidentally, in my mailbox, during a moment when I was thinking of something else.

I found an arcticle about a former TEA, Paul Jones, and within forty-eight hours was signed up to be an associate of the program. Since then, all of my connections through the TEA program have been wonderful. Sandi Kolb (TEA 1998/99) mentored me through dozens of hours of polar conversations and came to my school twice to be with my students. More recently, I've had terrific supporters from my island community and beyond, and want to thank them here. To Bruce and Marty Coffey, thanks for the digital camera that will return to live at school. Thanks also to Rock Island Communications for all the disks and a spare battery, Nate and Craig at Patagonia, my fine neighbors and dog sitter on the "former" Sunset Beach Road, and the amazing parents in my class who have been so enthusiastic about their kids' teacher heading south!

So much of traveling is about getting ready to go. I've been mentally preparing to leave almost from the day I applied to the program. The small, itchy detail of hoping I'd be accepted only temporarily postponed any actual packing. In the weeks before leaving the island, "things to do" were piling up, demanding my attention. I was simultaneously packing to leave and digging in for the winter in the drafty beach cabin I'll greet on my return. Getting a cord and a half of firewood stacked was one of the more meditative tasks on my long task list. Planning for my sub Denise was simply an act of faith. My students and my best dog friend are all in good hands.


My fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Orcas Island Elementary School the = Friday before I left for Christchurch.

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