Food, water and the air we breathe. The ties that bind us to the community of living things. I do love writing that looks at reconnection via great landscapes, via intimate experience of living things. But I also have a special place in my heart for people who write about the role of the food on our plates. In ‘Earthlines’ we have always quietly celebrated the people who approach food with honesty and in the knowledge that our relationship with our food is one of the great fundamentals which we need to re-build if we are to re-build anything at all: the people who write about allotments and foraging, about the soil and the preparation of honest food. So when I chanced on Carol Devine and Wendy Trusler’s book ‘The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning’, my ears pricked up. Would it be just a food gimmick, I wondered? Like making horseradish and seaweed ice-cream with liquid nitrogen? No, thank heavens, anything but. The article which I subsequently persuaded Carol Devine to kindly write for us looks at the pivotal community-building role of the preparation of food and dealing with our rubbish – against the backdrop of one of the most extreme environments (for humans) on the planet. It is ‘Earthlines’ bottom-upness from start to finish. Thanks, Carol.
Often there just isn’t the space in the magazine for all the images or threads of the story that we’d like to include. Carol’s article was a case in point. We nearly had a ‘first’ for the magazine – recipes! The famous Antarctic recipes of Wendy Trusler. But they were rather intricate and would have taken a page or more by themselves, so sadly you’ll have to ask her for them yourself, or get a look at the book.
Carol’s article vividly paints the strengths and the frailties of the characters who played host to her, to Wendy and to the volunteers who accompanied them on their Antarctic clean-up – the Russian Antarctic Expedition. These are people who love a place and a way of life where there is nowhere to hide, nowhere to disguise your mistakes or bury your past. A microcosm of the modern world as we hit the ecological end-stops of human activity on this planet. Here is one of them who sticks in my mind, ‘Meteorological Sasha’, going outside to release a met balloon (at 6.30 am precisely), captured by Wendy Trusler.
Carol’s writing isn’t as well known, perhaps, on this side of the Atlantic – though I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the future. She has quite a range of experience:
“Carol is a self-described global health and earth health activist. She’s worked for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, a medical humanitarian organization, for the majority of her career. First she was a field volunteer in Rwanda following the genocide, then she worked in South Sudan during the famine in 1998 and followed other crises in East Timor, Peru and today on Europe’s shores and borders where the tip of the massive global refugee crisis is unfolding. It is clear to Carol that health, human rights and environment are interrelated. She has also interspersed her time working with other amazing organizations such as The Diplomacy Training Program, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, a hands-on advocacy program for human rights defenders in the Asia-Pacific and with The Museum of AIDS in Africa. Carol’s personal projects include writing short stories, exploring the human footprint in the Arctic and urban cross-country skiing, when snow in Toronto permits.”