Aurora

shutterstock northern lights

I’ve seen aurora several times since I moved to Alaska many moons ago. Most of the time, someone called and said the lights were out so I’d run outside and look. The best sightings are when it’s warm, which is rare, because warmth and night do not go together in Alaska normally.

Nevertheless, I recall distinctly one event about twenty years ago when someone had called on the phone. There I was standing in the middle of the street in front of my condo, with the aurora dancing overhead. Aurora moves like smoke, dissolving, shifting. For a moment you wonder if you saw anything at all or, if you did, it’s gone. Then it reforms and blazes like fire.

It was a warm night; I don’t remember wearing a coat. What I do remember is the sound.

You’re not supposed to hear sound when you see the aurora. It’s too far away. But I heard a soft hush as if the pantheon of gods overhead were whispering to one another. I read a few years ago that I’m not the only person who hears sound.  It is a phenomenon probably explainable in some dull neurological terms, but I prefer to think that Zeus has just leaned across the banquet table to tell Artemis a secret.

Because mystery is far more romantic than the mundane.

How about you, Mysteristas? Have you seen the aurora?

 

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14 thoughts on “Aurora”

  1. What an evocative description. Yes, I’ve seen the teensiest bit of the aurora in Iceland a few years ago. Technically, we were a tad too early in the season for it, but when we went to the Northern Lights Museum in Reykjavik, our guide told us they’d seen the lights a few night earlier. Our hotel overlooked the bay and I couldn’t sleep that night. We had a wall-sized window at the head of our bed and I propped myself there, watching the water and the stars, so many stars. But the sky looked odd. The clouds formed and reformed, but not like they travel on the wind across the Colorado sky. It dawned on me I was seeing the aurora. “Smoke” is an excellent description. No colors, and very slight, but I jabbed my husband and we watched until it went away. I vowed then and there that I would see the full-blown lights some day. And now I want to hear the sound, too.

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  2. I remember seeing them many times when I lived in Alaska. Usually, they were wispy, but bright. I remember one night that stands out where they were in bright, multiple colors and they seemed to be dancing. I kept thinking they looked almost hallucinogenic. But it was real . The colors dipped and danced, fingers reaching down toward the ground, then pulling back to the sky. I feel lucky to have seen them. They can be seen occasionally in Seattle and North Idaho, but never as bright or as colorful as when they’re seen from further north.

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  3. I’m seriously considering taking the grandson up to Fairbanks on the glass-domed train this winter for a weekend to view them. Fairbanks is much better for seeing them: further north, colder, less light pollution. The train ride is long and slow and I’m hoping we’ll see them along the way too.

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  4. Keenan, I have seen the Northern Lights here in the U.P. twice when we’ve gone aurora hunting. Brief waves of green with a splash of blue. Probably not as spectacular as the displays you’ be seen — but still awe-inspiring! And not something this southern girl ever expected to see!

    Liked by 1 person

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