Entering shallow waters, waves grow taller only to break against the rough, rocky edges of a tiny island off the coast of Iceland. The frigid sea laps against basalt cliffs gleaming black in the sun, while among the whirlpools, waves and spume float large black and white birds. They are waiting for the right moment to get onto the cliff and start the climb towards their nests. Despite having wings and flight feathers, they cannot just take to the air. Their wings are ridiculously small, as if they stopped growing when the birds were still chicks. And although they are great for diving, they will eventually seal their owners’ tragic fate.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.”
We have always been interested in what lives and grows around us. This desire to understand the world is one of our most admirable qualities and, at the same time, basic science in its purest form. It was, no doubt, this kind of science that paved the way for the development of civilization.
Christmas looks quite similar in most Polish homes. Christmas dishes may vary from region to region, and so may local customs, but on the whole, there are more similarities between us Poles than there are differences. Outside our country’s geographical borders, there are two more places where Christmas is celebrated the Polish way. What are these places? The permanent Polish research stations in the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Equipped with central heating, air-conditioning, fridges, clothes and home insulation, we’ve grown used to the fact that technology makes us independent of outside conditions, enabling us to live in the least welcoming corners of the globe throughout the year. The ongoing technological advancement expands the natural tolerance ranges of the Homo sapiens, making our innate limitations increasingly irrelevant and giving us the confidence to brave even the bitter cold of Antarctica. Thanks to technology, the only continent where no indigenous civilization has ever emerged is now home for scientists who study the region from the comfort of Antarctic research stations.
Looking at Poland cleared of quaternary sediments, we can notice some topographic variety only in the southern part of the country. The rest is nothing but a vast boggy plain, which replaced what had once been extensive shallow seas and inland lakes. And so we should be grateful to ice sheets for leaving us a land covered with a wide assortment of sediments and rich in magnificent landscape features.