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.

12 comments:

Mile Stones said...

Something that's out there, up there, bigger than you, stranger than the world you know. So you worship it, fear it, respect it, pray that it be kind to you, beyond your control as it is. This is the true meaning of the devalued word, awe.

And the natural becomes supernatural, over-feared, maligned. Voilà, explained.
But you'd better be a good girl, Terry,just in case....and Bon Hiver, as they used to say in Northern Exposure!
PS- what does "Fresh Paint" mean? What happened?

Mile Stones said...

Oops, forgot to mention that your photo looks like it could be a fusion/joint-venture with one of Oliviah's fractals, don't you agree?

tsduff said...

Mile Stones - yes, awe. Great thoughts on the subject. Do you always have the answer? :-D Northern Exposure? I haven't thought of that show in a long while.

Fresh paint means.. you are putting up a new post or working on one. It notifies me of everybody's new stuff.

And yes - Oliviah's gorgeous fractals at times bear a dream-like quality, such as that found in the northern lights.

sister celtic said...

THANKS TERRY AND BEAR FOR ALL THE PHOTO'S THEY ARE AWESOME...ALSO ARE YOU STILL COMING UP TO THE ISLANDS? YOU ASKED WHAT IS THE LAST FERRY DO YOU MEAN TO THE MAINLAND OR FROM THE MAINLAND..NEED MORE INFO AND WILL SEND YOU ANY PHONE #'S OR INFO THAT YOU NEED.. CHECK THE FERRY SCHEDULE ON THE LINK BELOW:
http://www.lopezisland.com

tsduff said...

Thank you Anne - yes, still hoping/planning to come up around Christmas: plane to Seatac, shuttle to the ferry, stop at Friday Harbor for a few days visiting Dale and Richard, maybe skip over to Victoria, B.C. and then, God willing, over to Lopez around 12/29 or 30. What do you think? I'm still working out the schedule.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see those lights one day. So gorgeous. As for people, well, sometimes they're just silly. I have that written down on an index card that I keep in my back pocket, ready when I need it. :-)

jillie said...

Those are so beautiful! I would love to see the northern lights!!! 27 degrees? Brrrrr...that's cold. I guess I'm going to have to get use to it when I go back home to WI next month for the holidays. YIKES. I love the picture too that I posted. That's our view unfortunately we have all the telephone lines in the way but they are working on them to get rid of them. I never get tired of the view!

Outdoorsy Girl said...

How beautiful they must be! I can't wait to see them myself one day. Loved the story of your first northern lights sighting!

They are so mystical and mysterious that it's no wonder that anyone who doesn't understand this awesome phenomenon thought they were of witches' work. lol! Like you, though, I cannot see how anyone could think anything so beautiful to be evil.

Gareth said...

Hey it's my leprechaun family coming to visit me!!! :D

Agnes Mitchell said...

Hi Terry - and happy birthday!! Maybe the folklore about northern lights was just a real good way to get wayward children to come in after dark. Obviously, now, we know that they are the result of sunspots and earthly gasses. Nothing so scary as witches.
Anyway, they are on my list of things I want to do in this life. I'd love to see those northern lights. Maybe if/when I visit Alaska in search of whales.

Love and hugs and happy Friday.
Aggie

Kyahgirl said...

we get them here sometimes but only the green part. you have to be further North to the get the colours. But still, they are a wonderous site and never fail to fill me with awe!!

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