2 weeks ago
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I was talking to Grandma Bear last night, and the conversation drifted to the topic of the northern lights. I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the beautiful, eerie sight on my first Iceland trip over a year ago. We were driving home after a long day on the Snaefellsness Peninsula, and opted to come back the long way home, rather than going in the exhaust fumes-filled tunnel under the fjord. The road was dark, and long as it curved along the endless ins and outs of the many fjord fingers. I noticed the fog gathering in a weird greenish bunch way overhead as we passed through and away from a few lighted buildings... I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me. We drove a bit further down the road, and as I excitedly exclaimed to G, he pulled over so we could get out of the car for a better look. There, in a long curtain of slowly undulating ghostly green, were the northern lights! We watched for a long time, there in the cold darkness by the side of the road. The lights were elusive - fading in and then out of existence. We climbed back into the car, and for the rest of the drive home I craned my neck, hoping to see them in the sky.
Long ago I had a friend whose name was Minnie, and she was a Tlingit Indian from a small Alaskan village called Shagaluk, accessible only by dogsled or plane. I have always had a curiousity about the northern lights, and once I asked her if she had ever seen them. She looked shocked - and told me that her mother had always said that the lights were evil and dangerous, and that one should never look at them. So she didn't. Hmmm. Grandma Bear then told me about a little girl in Iceland with whom she had played with as a child. The little girl's maid came outside to call Grandma's friend into the house, telling them both the same thing: that the lights were "the witch's highway", and that she had better come to bed right away! I find it difficult to believe that people are so willing to put an evil slant on something so naturally beautiful.