Last night, I was granted the honor of watching one of nature’s beautiful wonders.
I was on my way back from the main building in the Park to the small cabin where I sleep after watching a movie on my computer (I don’t have wifi where I sleep, only in the main house) . It was just around midnight, so I quickly packed my stuff and headed for the door. I had (as I’ve done almost every night since I got here) checked my ‘Auroral Forecast’-app to see if there was any possibility to see the Northern Lights that night (I worship that app. It’s brilliant). It had been a lovely day with clear skies until late afternoon, but with the gray clouds we had during the last hours of light, I didn’t count on seeing anything, really. The app had actually showed very good signs – there was a lot of strong activity over the area I was in – but I was ready to get disappointed because of clouds..
I had been outside a little earlier to check on the weather – then, I was able to see some stars, but not many. But when I later closed the door and started towards the road which leads to my little ‘home’, I was not prepared for the sight that met my eyes.
After a couple of seconds, my eyes had adjusted to the night sky, and I was sure – there was indeed some greenish blur in the horizon. I got so excited that I just grabbed my phone and called my dad who I’d been talking to via Skype a little earlier that night. “Hello?” – “There’s the Northern Lights!! It’s here!!” – “Haha, great. Take some pictures. Goodnight“. As I hung up, I realized that he was probably on his way to bed – if he wasn’t already sleeping when I called him. Ups. Sorry papa!
I literally ran back inside the main house, switched off the outdoor lighting and ran back out into the dark road. And then I stopped. I could do nothing except standing still and looking up. I didn’t even care to pick my jaw from the floor. So, with gaping mouth and eyes as big as saucers, I stood for more than 50 minutes and swallowed the impressions
It’s difficult to describe. I tried to take some pictures, but for that you need a stable tripod and knowing how to set the settings of the camera. I had neither. So I desperately tried to burn the images in the sky into my mind. It was breathtaking. The sky was so clear I could see everything in it – a satellite slowly making it’s way through the darkness far, far away – a shooting star, which I could actually see burn for several seconds – all the constellations I know, and far more that I do not know the name of – and I could see the mountains around me and the forest covering the Park. I could hear the river flowing underneath the icy layer on top of it, and a soft wind occasionally rustling a few leaves which stubbornly remained through winter on some of the trees.
In the beginning, there was several rays of green light piercing the sky close to the mountains around me. Then, suddenly, they starred to move. They evolved, grew, changed in density and thickness. A couple of rays became a lot, and all of a sudden there were more all around me. Flowing curtains of light moving across the night sky. I would try to take it all in, twisting and turning my head, craning my neck, looking up. I could feel something sweeping up inside me. Almost a feeling of victory. All my late nights, staying up and hoping to see some color in the sky, finally paid off. I felt like laughing and yelling and letting out shrieks of joy. At the same time, I didn’t dare to say a word. It was amazing, a feeling of being free and safe with the guiding lights overhead. At the same time, it felt eerie… Not the Light, but the feeling of standing alone out in the dark forest with nothing but the stars and the Northern Lights to light up my way. I was in awe. I was spellbound, unable to keep it in, feeling like I didn’t belong inside my body, like I needed to let something out. A small laugh was all that passed my lips. Then a smile replaced the baffled expression I had started out with, and my mouth settled into a silent joyful laugh.
The Lights kept on changing. Sometimes you could see it while it happened, other times you couldn’t see any movement until the painting in the sky had suddenly altered. Looking away for a second could mean a whole different display when your eyes found their way back. But it was impossible to look only one way. As time passed, more and more patches of star-speckled darkness turned green. The green Lights twinkled on in the sky like a giant ribbon making its way through the night, weaving in and out between the stars. Sometimes, there would only be a couple of rays shooting up along the mountain tops, their light burning brightly, only to dissolve after few seconds. After some different displays of moving and evolving in different places in the night, the sky exploded.
The Northern Lights were above me. I could see the constant moving of light and figure – It was so apparent and staggering how quickly it moved and how the intensity of the color would, well, intensify, and then dissolve as quickly as it had appeared. The whole sky was ablaze with green. It was just like that scene in Disney’s ‘Brother Bear‘ (If you haven’t seen it, go see it. It’s an amazing movie, beautiful and funny and full of love.) with the Northern Lights and the old spirits of the wilderness… Except that there weren’t any spirit-animals in the sky and I wasn’t accompanied by two bears. But just as beautiful and magical.
I stood out there for more than 50 minutes – in the end, I had to go inside, I was cold and tired – and it was almost 01:00 in the morning. But it was difficult, so difficult, to leave the beautiful sky out of my sight.
Now I understand why the native people of these lands believed the Northern Lights to be old Spirits of the forest dancing in the sky. That’s because they are doing so – the Northern Lights are full of Spirits, and emotions, and stories. Lots of stories, painted out on the night sky. I saw birds, eagles, a crane, the face of a fox, then a wolf, and Spirits my mind doesn’t know the name of but my body responds to. I knew I had the Spirits of the wilderness watching over me. And suddenly, I knew my grandmother was watching me, too. It didn’t feel like she was watching me from above – I don’t think she belongs with those kind of Spirits, but I knew she was with me somehow, although I couldn’t quite figure out how come. The next morning, I woke up to clear, beautiful blue skies. On my way to the main house, I saw tracks from an animal close by the river, on the opposite side of where my cabin is. Later, the others told me the tracks were tracks of a lynx…
Who knows – maybe my grandmother was keeping an eye on me all the time, from across the river?
Picture: Disney’s ‘Brother Bear’ (2003)