|Weathered boulders near Bay of Sails, Antarctica|
Earth is a beautiful place filled with creatures that harvest photons, exploit chemical gradients, and consume the bodies or byproducts of other creatures. Each organism (or perhaps more properly, each colony of organisms) grows, reproduces, ages, and dies. In the process, they cycle elements and, for a time, leave their signatures. This dynamic process is what we call life. As so many luminaries have said before, Earth is truly a living planet. Many of us contemplate this concept each April 22nd.
Antarctica illustrates most, if not all, aspects of the living Earth: from undersea environments teeming with micro-, macro-, and mega-scale organisms, to physical forces slowly eroding boulders left behind by the last ice age, liberating elements and exposing new habitats for life. One need only sit (or float) and take it all in. Compared to our world, the "physical" seems more "physical" here and life seems more resilient.
Nothing is fragile, except the unprepared human. And, at times, even the "prepared" human psyche.