Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Deep Cove: Land of the Lotus-Eaters.

Fiordland is, without a doubt, my favourite part of New Zealand. Silver sounds wind their way inland like hungry snakes, where they are fed by great curtains of water crashing down the forest-swathed mountainsides. I, and my field assistant, have just returned from Deep Cove, which had everything that I love about Fiordland but with fewer people and more wildlife.

Or at least, I think it did. I don’t really remember. Luckily, I took notes while stuff was happening, so I have a basic record of a couple of the last few days.

Diary of first day. Click to enlarge
Diary of second day. Click to enlarge

I have no record of the last day, although this photo suggests there was a lobster involved.

So, we found C. sylvatica, which was the main thing. But what caused all the tiredness? We have two theories. Firstly, the sky was always really dark and heavy with rain, and the air damp and cold. All the time we were inside, we had the heater and electric lights on. Additionally we were working in forest and huge mountains concealed most of the sky. Darkness causes us to produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone.

Secondly, Deep Cove has no internet or cellphone reception. We hardly saw any other people. We were so removed from societal demands. My field assistant has recently been under immense pressure at university, and I have just come away from a conference, so we were both rather exhausted. Deep Cove’s serenity and isolation may have just given us the right environment to relax, rest and recuperate.

I have other theories too – maybe there is experimentation going on with different kinds of sleeping gas used for war and mind control. Or maybe terrible things are happening at Deep Cove that the government wants us to forget, so they drug the water. Maybe it is a combination of all of the above. Who knows?

The whole experience reminded me of The Odyssey, when Odysseus and his crew arrive at an island where the inhabitants get high on lotus all the time. Odysseus’ crew tries the lotus, and they end up forgetting all their troubles and wandering around in a groggy haze. It distracts them from their travels, and Odysseus has to leave some of them on the island. Luckily, Deep Cove wasn’t so incapacitating that we couldn’t leave. I also managed to get some writing done (I have to correct a paper and write a letter, a newspaper article, a thesis and a six month report). Haven’t looked at it yet though so it might be a bit senseless.

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