Who knew?? An exemplary model of something I spoke about in my previous blog conveniently took place just a few days ago.
There we are- Emily, Anna Rose and I- all snuggled on our cushy green couch (the favorite of the house). A Discovery Channel documentary on Alaskan climate change is entertaining us on my laptop (since our DVD player decided to retire), when around 9:30 our house phone starts ringing.
Who’s calling us so late at night? Most of our loved ones are in the Eastern Time zone, so it would be a pretty late phone call coming from that end of the country. Emily and I silently look at it, both of us thinking ‘We never get house phone calls. Like… ever.’ So Anna Rose, who frequently receives house phone calls and is conveniently closest to the phone, answers.
It’s Laura! The Auroras are out!! It takes us all of five seconds to agree we are taking the ride out of town to go check them out. Coats and boots and gear fly on as we round up our ‘Writer at Work’ Daynee and call on our ever-dedicated newsie Zachariah. The boy declines, and so us females hop in the truck and head south- away from town.
The best way to see the Auroras, we have learned, is to get as far away from town- and light pollution- as possible. I’m not sure if this is obvious or not, but the darker it is, the better you can see the Lights.
Even as we drove out of town, we could see them out of our windows. They weren’t extremely bright, but they were there for sure. It’s a pretty amazing feeling, wheel in hand, looking up to see this great cosmic display. At one point Emily rolled down her window to look out at them, and shortly after was met with protests from chilled roommates in the below zero temperature.
Fifteen minutes takes us far enough out that we think will suffice for a decent sighting. Stepping out of the truck, we look up in awe. The marvels above our heads are incredible. Light shades of green that twist and move as though life pumps through them, and to many, they do; the Aurora Borealis are said to be made of the souls who have suffered violent deaths or are caught between the here and the heavens. I give a whistle, having heard that doing so makes them dance. Daynee then informs me whistling makes the spirits angry, and they will descend and punish me for it… knock on wood, but so far I’ve been okay.
After a few moments of admiration, it’s time to break out the camera. ‘These are going to be awesome! Finally, I’ll get some shots of these long awaited wonders!’ Welp, as luck would have it, I turn on my Canon only for the screen to read ‘no card in camera.’ Whatttt?! Man, I forgot to take the card out of my computer!!!! And I realize in that moment… it’s just one of those times. How many times have I or will I see the Northern Lights? Only a few since I’ve been here. In the future, maybe many more, maybe not. Either way, I had to simply look up and not think about how glorious it would be to have that on film. (Yes, I did have my Iphone, but you can forget even thinking about an attempt with the camera in that.)
Nope, I just had my memory to create images, I create it did. As we stared up into the black abyss, the stars glittering diamonds, we watched as the lights directly above us resemble a cat, then shift into an eagle, and then slowly dissipated into the darkness. To the north a giant stream ambles through the sky, while to the south intense jets flow toward the earth. It was as if, had we driven just a little farther, we would be able to see where they struck ground.
While I unfortunately did not manage to get any shots, a good friend allowed me to share the ones he captured that same evening. Though not my own, I can say ‘Hey, I was there! I saw those!’
It’s cool to think racers from the Iron Dog (the longest, toughest snow machine race), after traveling 1,083 miles from Big Lake, were arriving into Nome that very same evening, under the very same sky. The halfway banquet for the race was held the following day, where racers and public congregated for a meal and awards presentation. Little kids asking for autographs from racers, my newsie roommates interviewing on trail conditions and strategies, and I there to spectate it all. How the kids, the racers, I… we all could have all been looking up the night before, at the same lights, the same sky, feeling appreciation and wonderment. Maybe they also called family, friends, or loved ones, as others had called me, letting them know nature’s glory was out that night.
All in all, hopefully I can capture some shots of my own someday. If not, hey, at least I have the memories. To those who call, to those who share, to those who let others know not just of the lights, but of other events as well, and extend an inviting hand: a shout-out to you. It’s those sweet moments of care and consideration that bring joyful excitement and surprise to our days (collectively, and specifically, on the cushy green couch!) May good karma be upon you ^_^