Satellite photo of the North Pole courtesy of visibleearth.nasa.gov
Once, I flew from California to Turkey by way of Germany, and the route was a northerly one: up over Canada and the North Pole, down over Greenland and Iceland, the white cliffs of Dover, and finally to Munich to make the connection to Istanbul. I thoroughly enjoyed three incredible weeks in Turkey, but one of the best parts of the entire trip was that flight over the frozen north.
It was late at night. I was tired, but it was impossible to sleep squashed into one of the purgatorially narrow seats on offer from Lufthansa, next to my desperately uncomfortable 6'8" then-boyfriend. I was not near a window, so I got up to wander; maybe futz around in the lavatory, or find a window to look out into the darkness. I ended up in the galley, where there was just enough precious room to stretch, and looked out on the frozen Arctic ocean.
It was perfectly clear, and there was a faint, blue light over everything. All was smooth and icy, with sheets of white and the darkness of deep, cold water between the ice floes like cracked china glaze stretching out over the curving rim of the earth, swirled and shaped by the churning ocean beneath.
High up in the plane, lights out, with all the passengers sleeping fitfully to the muffled rumble of the jet engines, I felt sucked into the massive silence of the north. Greenland dawned slowly, white and pristine, with the sharp contrast of stony, black out-croppings. After that, the world started to thaw beneath us, but the frozen ocean is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.