Sitting in my apartment, in parks, and on my roof, I have tried to keep track of the ebb and flow of the seasons in the relentless monotony of a socially distanced New York. Keeping track has been made all the more difficult by the seasonal monotony that my research asks of me—working on a dissertation about literary representations of the tropics has me fixated on heat even when I do not feel it.
Austral summer on the Antarctic Peninsula. Eight of us climb out of our zodiac onto the shore of Petermann Island. This place dazzles and overwhelms the senses. The luminous blue icebergs, granite streaked pink with penguin guano, the weakly green cryoplankton spread across the snow. Antarctica is not the white continent of popular imagination. And it isn’t quiet either. The plangent groans of glaciers crawl across the landscape, reverberating through our bodies. Gentoo penguins squawk atop their stone nests, staring helplessly skyward at the skuas eying their young. We are unwelcome, unneeded guests.