Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

The day I held up the world

Marty’s photo of the day #2463: I can’t believe it’s been fifteen years since I held up the world! This excerpt from my book Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents explains the shot:

I had a debt to pay for our successful Antarctica landing. Besides Shackleton and Neptune, another larger-than-life being had been guiding our expedition. Now, on Antarctica, I could finally follow through with the favor I had promised to Atlas.

Before taking on such a Herculean task, however, I wanted to give Deb my camera so she could snap a photo for posterity. I waited until she had walked most of the way down the glacier before calling out, “Deb, I need you!”

When she arrived, I glanced down at the guano-stained snow. The penguins on the lower section of the glacier added an unexpected element. Had I been thinking, I would have made use of the clean snow near the summit. Oh well, a promise is a promise. I leaned over, pushed the top of my head against the glacier, propped my hands out on either side for balance, and lifted my legs straight into the air. Anywhere else I would have been doing a headstand, but here on Antarctica I was holding up the world!

Perhaps you remember a brief unexplained sensation of falling on February 21, 2003. I could only hold the world for a few seconds—just long enough to provide a short break—and Atlas wasn’t ready to get it back so soon. We almost fumbled the exchange.

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