We had another huge blizzard on the first and second of September. One metre visibility and 120 knot winds welcomed our first days of spring. We used an ice axe as a wedge for the front door because it was flexing in the gusts. Finally on Tuesday we escaped and had our first day outside in twenty days!

Massive amounts of snow have been dumped around us during August. The radio aerial used to be about two metres in the air. One end was buried in the snow! When there was a lull in the wind Margie and I went outside to clear the snow away from the aerial. We were only wearing our Ug boots. No crampons or anything sensible. Margie fell and twisted her leg. Fortunately, there is no serious injury. We were surprised at the amount of snow. It was like a wall around Gadget Hut two metres high. I cut steps in the snow to make it easier to get out. The wind is working on clearing the snow away and has already cleared a space all around Gadget Hut. It looks like Gadget Hut is sitting in a snow hole. I mentioned Margie's hood got blown away last week. We estimated that the hood arrived in Australia about 12 hours after she lost it. Keep your eyes open when you walk on the beach, maybe it will turn up!

We went over to Boat Harbour to look at what the high tide did to the ice. Boat Harbour is partially broken out of its total ice cover again. The high tide when the moon is full starts cracking the ice. We were having a look and cracks were opening up everywhere. Margie was frightened when cracks opened under her feet. All I could think of was how much I would like to film what was happening. I had the video camera with me and I did manage to get a bit of what was happening recorded. After this exciting bit we noticed that there were about 40 Snow Petrels and Cape Petrels feeding along the shore. Usually we only see one or two birds trying to feed along this shore. So Margie and I decided it's our official announcement. The animals are coming back.

We opened a new supply drum this week that was supposed to have toilet paper in it. It didn't, it was empty. We have been careful of our paper usage since our first month down here. Now we will be very careful. We collected all the tissues, paper towels and toilet rolls. Then we separated them into four monthly blocks which will get us to the end the year. We will just manage but if we are stuck here for a second year...well that will take some creative thinking. We would have a year without paper products. Can you imagine that?

Mawson experienced 226 hours of sunlight in September. We have our fingers crossed. We need the sun because I've really damaged our batteries. We are only getting 15 percent of what we should be getting and then they go flat. I caused this battery problem by warming them in front of the heater, standing on their ends. They are the very best gel- cell batteries that you can buy. They have done a fantastic job for us. We need to warm the batteries for a whole week to repair them. That will be difficult in these conditions. Temperatures are in the low minus twenties but it has been sunny. This week we had 33 hours of sunshine. The Solarex solar panels keep the batteries topped up and yesterday we had nine and a half hours so the batteries are happy today.

Talking to students and Dr. Hendrik Heinjin about Antarctic research. We had a conference call in Australia this week and learned that Australian scientists from ANSTO are working in Antarctica. Dr. Heinjin will be continuing his research into the affects of ultraviolet B on diatoms in Antarctica. They are the beginning of the food chain. Mary Ann put a summary of his work on ICEJOURNAL.BB. Opening another batch of 100 Shelf Stable Meals. Margie has grabbed the Sate Beef which is her favorite.

During our conversation with the students, one high school asked if we were doing any harm to the environment of Antarctica by living here. It was a very good question and we have written about this in ICEJOURNAL. We have a "nil environmental impact" approach and will be carrying all of our waste back to Australia. The Antarctic Treaty of nations permits disposal of human waste into the sea. We don't want to do that but we are having a few problems. We'll keep you informed when we have investigated the problem, yuck.

Keep warm,
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