June 17, 2011

June 1911

Around the table at Framheim, date unknown. From left, Lindstrøm, Hassel, Wisting, Hanssen, Amundsen, Stubberud, and Prestrud. [1]

Amundsen worked hard to keep the strains of being in close quarters at a minimum. With all of the preparations to be made, there was not much free time, but Prestrud gave English lessons to some of the men -- in the kitchen, so as not to disturb the others -- and there was a small but comprehensive library available to everyone, mostly Polar literature, as well as card games, and darts sent by Amundsen's sister-in-law. One of the competitions Amundsen organised was a temperature-guessing contest, with prizes every month and a telescope at the end of the season for the overall winner -- ostensibly, this was to develop the men's ability to gauge temperature, should all of the thermometers break on the Polar journey, but it had the more immediate effect of keeping spirits up.

"Because of the prizes, everybody insists on going out [every morning] to look at the weather. And that's why the prizes have been put up. But nobody knew it. I find this little morning visit out in the open is so beneficial. Even if it is but for a minute or two, it is unbelievable how that short time helps to wake a sleepy man and bring feelings into equilibrium before [the day's first] cup of nice, warm coffee."

"Even the best-humoured person in the world has a touch of morning peevishness, and that has to be removed as unnoticeably as possible. If a morning peevish person notices that you are putting yourself out to remove his burden, he becomes doubly peevish." [2]


[1] Roald Amundsen Bildearkiv, Nasjonalbiblioteket.
[2] Roald Amundsen, diary, [date not given], quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.385.

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