That evening, we watched the high Antarctic sun dip slightly and the sky grow pink, a clear indication that winter was coming. The sun never sets during the summers, so the evening hour is a long flirtation between the sun and the horizon, like lovers who gaze at each other from across a room but never touch. Wisps of cloud turned violet and streaks of sapphire blue appeared behind the peaks of the white-capped mountains with giant glaciers suspended between them. Just beyond the black, rounded humps of the mountain called the Matador (for it looks like a bullfighter's cap) there was even a bit of red in the rocks. I would not have traded this sight of the Antarctic sky for a thousand Caribbean sunsets. For in Antarctica, there is nothing between you and the sky - no trees, no buildings, no poles, no electric lines. You can see for hundreds of kilometers along the horizon, where the sky meets the ice under your feet. It seems that the sky is not only above you, but also next to you and in front of you. You are walking into the sky as much as you are walking on the snow and ice.
Even the dangerous jagged crevasses around us reflected light and shadow in beautiful patterns. That is the paradox of this continent, so gorgeous and so dangerous at the same time. Ann looked at me, and I could tell she was thinking the same things. She smiled and said, "Who could've known that Hell would be so beautiful?"
From No Horizon Is So Far by Ann Bancroft, Liv Arnesen and Cheryl Dahle. Copyright Ann Bancroft, Liv Arnesen and Cheryl Dahle 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Da Capo Press.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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