We saw thousands of penguins who were hardly phased by the intrusion of a few hundred visitors in red parkas. They waddled right past us as if we were just a part of the natural process of things.
Knowing we would be seeing lots of penguins, I called our grandchildren before we left and promised to send them a card with a penguin on it from Antarctica. Four year old Tyler sobbed like his heart was broken. His mom got on the phone and explained that he was crying because he thought we were going to take him with us to see the glaciers and icebergs. Now my heart was broken. I felt so awful that I had added to his pain with the phone call.
I resolved to buy him something very special when I went souvenir shopping. Unfortunately, there was not much shopping to be done. The ship we were on had some souvenirs but someone missed their opportunity for a good profit by not stocking up on a lot of items grandparents could purchase for their grandkids. I was disappointed. I ended up with three fleece vests embroidered with the word “Antarctica” and a pair of “free” mittens in the back zippered pocket of the vest. Clothes. The girls might be happy with that but I knew what Tyler’s reaction would be.
All the way home and throughout the first week of our return, I wrestled with ideas of something else I might get him. Then the snow started to fall and the lightbulb in my head popped on. Glaciers were made of packed snow. Icebergs came from glaciers…
The day before we were to make the trip to Columbus to see the grandkids, I took a large plastic container out into the yard and scooped up some snow, packing it solidly into the container. I put it in the freezer and, when we were ready to make the trip to his house, we packed it carefully in a cooler with lots of ice bags around it.
“We brought you an iceberg from Antarctica,” I announced as we settled into the living room of Tyler’s house.
I watched as his eyes grew wide. “Really?”
“Really.” I opened the lid to the container and let him look inside.
“Wow! An iceberg!” He reached in and touched the cold mound of ice and snow then drew back quickly and giggled. “Mommy, Grandma brought an iceberg!”
I was concerned that he would just figure out that I’d scooped snow from outside but there was none around his house that week so the thought didn’t occur to him. His sister ran to get their plastic bath toys—a penguin, a seal, and a polar bear.
We floated the iceberg in the bathtub and dissuaded Tyler from climbing in with it. When he realized it was starting to melt, he began to panic.
“Quick, Grandma put it back in the freezer.”
The iceberg is half its original size and is sitting in the freezer waiting for Tyler to explore his little piece of “Antarctica” again. There’s a good chance it might make the trip to preschool for show and tell. At four, he’s learned that glaciers are made of snow and ice and when the pieces break off into the ocean, they become icebergs. That’s quite a bit of knowledge for a little guy. It was quite a souvenir.