A Distant Encounter

Cape Crozier sits at the base of Mt. Terror on the northeastern shore of Ross Island, Antarctica. Hundreds of thousands of Adelie penguins gather here every Austral summer to nest and forage for their chicks. The colony is stark and windswept — its monochrome hues of bare rock, snow, and ice against a startling backdrop of every shade of blue, from the brilliant, nightless sky to the dark, frothy sea, to the turquoise pools and ice formations of wandering icebergs. The sounds, too, are few and very specific: the colony is drowned by a deafening cacophony of penguins and skuas engaged in various acts of life, sustenance, and death. But away from the colony the only things that make any noise are the wind and the ice. There are no insects, land animals, songbirds, humans, airplanes, cars, or plants. Nothing rumbles, stomps, hums, chirps, buzzes, or rustles in the breeze. But the wind can whip up from a light breeze into something fierce in the span of a few hours, rattling our huts and tents and howling across the icy landscape like a feral beast. The ice rarely makes any noise, save for the occasional loud pop underfoot as the glacier shifts ever so slightly in its rocky bed.

Our hut is at the edge of a small glacier about a mile up the hill from the colony. Because of the distance and the way the wind blows (mostly from the south) we rarely ever hear the penguins down below. We sleep outside in Scott tents, which look like teepees with double walls made of heavy yellow canvas. The tents are anchored with thick nylon ropes that are tied to rocks, which are then piled with more rocks to form a sort of cairn. The view from the hut is stark and spectacular: a glacier, snowfields, and rocky hills give way to a vast expanse of water, partially covered by ice, that is a primary feeding ground for Adelie penguins, emperor penguins, south polar skuas, leopard seals, Weddell seals, minke whales, and orcas.
One January morning I woke up on an unusually windless day. The previous day had been stormy, and during the night I could hear the wind  whistling through and flapping the tent’s walls and guy-lines. I had used earplugs to drown out the incessant noise, but by morning they were rendered obsolete by an eerie calm. The wind was completely gone, and the sun shone so brightly I was beginning to sweat inside my tent despite the sub-freezing temperatures outside. The silence was deep, vast, and humbling. A dull pop from the glacier below vanished into the vastness all around, barely able to fill all of that quiet space. I stepped outside the tent to cool off, took in the view, and then reached back in to retrieve my stuff. As I was tightening the tent door I heard a large, soft mammalian sound at my back, the deepest breath I had ever heard. I turned around half expecting to see a large creature nearby — maybe a Weddell seal had crawled up the glacier to molt? Nothing. I scanned the glacier and the guano-stained rocks nearby where the skuas perched. Nothing that could make a sound like that. I fixed my gaze towards the ocean and finally saw them: a pod of minke whales, about five miles away. They were breaking the mirror-like surface of the sea, breathing, and spouting before disappearing underwater once again. The sound was unmistakable: a large mammalian breath, perfectly matched with the appearance of each whale, just like the one I had heard right behind me minutes before.
Silence had compressed the space between me and the whales. I stood watching them until they disappeared behind an iceberg, feeling as if their breathing was practically inside my own body. That sound, amplified by complete silence, echoed inside me for the rest of the day as I wandered though the penguin colony looking for flipper bands. I looked for the whales that afternoon but they didn’t come back. When I saw them again, a few days later, I couldn’t hear them in the same way. There was a gentle breeze, just enough to put the distance back between us.

The Art of Feeding Kids Private Coaching Session

Hire me for a private coaching session on the Art of Feeding Kids.

Are you feeling frustrated by family meals, basic cooking chores, and the thanklessness of your kids’ limited palate? It doesn’t have to be that way! Family mealtimes are not meant to be a struggle. And picky kids of all ages can and do learn how to expand their palates.

This class will cover basic tips for how to address picky eating and how to eastblish structure and good habits around food, will give you tools for engaging with your kids around food in a fun and constructive way, and will cover basic nutritional concepts like nutrient-density and the importance of healthy fats.

The goal of this class is to help parents reduce their anxiety around eating, empower them to shape their own family food culture, and restore fun and connection around the dinner table.

What clients have to say:

“The ‘Art of Feeding Kids’ with Viola got me thinking in new ways… not only the importance of ‘what’ we eat, but even more so about ‘how’ we eat, this is nourishment and sustenance too that helps transform not only ‘picky eaters’ but serves the whole family. I’ve found it helpful as a parent to have someone to talk with and learn from on this subject, I love Viola’s passion, pragmatism and knowledge!” Jaymie M.

“Viola is the real deal! She is knowledgable, patient and non-judgemental. She quickly helped us get to the root of our son’s picky eating and gave us real world solutions to fix it! Thank you Viola!” Evonne T.

“One of our children is a picky eater, and Viola encouraged us to approach things differently. Our issues were deeper than our child’s palette because my husband and I were approaching eating differently. Viola opened our eyes to new ideas and helped us merge our thinking about how to feed our kids.  With her support we have achieved a more meaningful & less frustrating family dynamic at mealtime.  We are all happier eaters thanks to Viola’s passion to make us so!” Meghan O.

“The Art of Feeding Kids class was a wonderful occasion to help us assess our family’s current relationships with food. Viola provided tips on transforming meal times into opportunities to experiment and share and she capped the class off with menus and recipes (and strategies!) for busy, working parents. I left the class with a new appreciation of teaching our children to enjoy the communal sharing of food.” Josh C.

“Viola brings not only a deep understanding of the REAL nutritional needs of our children and ourselves, but also an understanding of the meaning of food and nourishment, mealtimes and family community. She is passionate about each of these areas and her work brings them together in a way that empowers both the parent and the child. Before working with her I had felt disempowered and stressed out by all the opinions and tactics offered by other experts. She tackles the dynamics under whatever food challenges you are facing and offers insightful, compassionate approaches to making food fun again.” Emily S.

“Viola has been teaching her class The Art of Feeding Kids for the past two years at my San Francisco preschool. The additional coaching she offers for families of picky eaters has saved me from endless conversations with parents who are locked in food battles with their kids. Parents rave about her words of wisdom and find new ways to enjoy family meals.” Julie Fellom, Neighborhood Playgarden

Private Cooking Class

I am available for private cooking classes to be scheduled at your own convenience and in the comfort of your own kitchen. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Risotto making
  • Fermentation basics: sauerkraut and pickled vegetables
  • Advanced fermentation: fermented grains and legumes, probiotic drinks, salt-curing
  • Fresh cheese & dairy: kefir, ghee, ricotta and paneer
  • Meats & seafood: searing and slow cooking techniques
  • Stocks and broths: seafood, bones, vegetables, and specialty broths
  • Homemade condiments: mayonnaise, mustard, & sriracha
  • Zero waste kitchen: minimize kitchen waste and make the most of your kitchen scraps
  • Cooking from the box: cooking seasonally out of your CSA box


Contact me for rates and availability.

What clients have to say:

“Over the past six months, I’ve had the privilege of being nutritionally empowered through Viola in both a private lesson and two sessions at my son’s preschool. Her classes and coaching are uplifting, refreshing, and, most of all, empowering. Not only does she share specific nutritious recipes of what a picky three-, four- or five-year-old might enjoy, but she gives invaluable, no-nonsense wisdom of sharing the wonder of enjoying meals with your child. Tips such as “no bribing with food,” “children eat what adults eat,” and “eating is joyful” are told. After taking two of Viola’s “The Art of Feeding Kids” classes, I’ve watched with delight as my son’s taste buds and love for food has returned. Viola’s classes are not to be missed! Your tummy and your children’s tummies will thank you.”

Camille Patel Lazear

Presidio Survey Map

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