I will soon be emerging from my ~hiatus, and am currently in the process of transforming my ordinary bagel into an extraordinary blogue.™ Thus, if you happen upon it in the next few days and find it rather dusty and incomplete, I beg your forgiveness. Everything will be better soon.
This dumb blog is getting a makeover before I head out on a series of adventures that might just wind up taking me to places like Roger Casement’s grave. Expect big things, my friends. Big things.
It’s summertime, and even the snakes can’t be troubled to do much but curl themselves around raspberry bushes and bask in the sun. The fan runs all night, and on the nights it doesn’t rain, I can hear hundreds of insects rubbing their legs together outside my window. I am suddenly free to do anything (a fact which I continuously have to remind myself of), and more importantly, am free to do absolutely nothing at all. There is a certain joy, I think - a joy that only comes in small doses - in these first few weeks of ripe freedom, when all that “summer” means is humid days and open-window nights.
The Basilica of Notre Dame, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. (Not really relevant to what I’ve been doing for this past week, but close to le Palais de Congrès, and pretty.)
We had been driving through the darkness for several hours when Pam spotted the bright glow off to our left. At first, we just dismissed it as the lights from the nearest town bouncing off the clouds, but that town was behind a mountain range, and still an hour or so away.
"Could that be the aurora?" Pam wondered.
Suddenly, everyone got very excited. “IT’S THE AURORA!” we cheered, pressing our faces up against the window, shielding our eyes from the glare of headlights. What else could it be? There are only a limited number of explanations for an enormous glow in the northern part of the sky at 9:45pm.
"We have to take a picture," I said. Pam pulled off onto an exit, but it was still behind some trees. "Pull into the Sleep Inn parking lot up there!" I yelled, but we missed the turn. Terrified that the lights might disappear or prove to be only a trick of our imaginations, she turned into a side street and pulled up into what seemed to be somebody’s driveway. "Go go go!" she yelled, and S and I took off, running over people’s driveways and backyards, too excited to remember our coats.
The road rounded the corner, and we finally got our first clear view of the lights. Pam ducked into a cornfield next to the road and motioned for us to follow her, all the while staring up at the strange sky. We stood there for a moment, mouths gaping, before I remembered I had a camera.
Taken with a 15-second exposure, which, along with the cold, explains the blurriness.
Soon, our teeth were chattering, and the wind began to pick up, so we trudged back towards the car, which, thankfully, no one had noticed. We followed the lights along the highway for as long as we could, past tour buses of people gazing up at them and accidents presumably caused by someone craning their neck a little too far. We finally lost sight of it, several miles before we reached the pass.
When we arrived at the house, it was already close to midnight, and in the sky, untouched by the light pollution of the city, shone with thousands of stars.
I’ve seen Northern Lights before in the Arctic, which undulate and shimmer in streaks across the sky, seeming more like silk curtains than a solar phenomenon. The lights here weren’t nearly as magnificent, but there is something about finding things in the places that you least expect them that makes them magnificent anyway, irregardless of the way they look. Staring up at the cold, cloudy sky, you remember why you love this crazy universe, because just when you think everything will fall apart, the sky starts shining.
(It turned out that we weren’t completely crazy, because NASA observed a massive solar flare right around the time we spotted the aurora. There are a couple of reports about it floating around, some saying that it wasn’t visible in the US, which may be true. Still, it’s not every day that you get to see the sky light up like a football stadium.)
I never want to see another Software Deployment Plan or Software Depot or Software Deployment Wizard or SID file or anything else that sounds like it was created so an executive in some company can say it and sound smart. This, after transferring install files across three drives, taking up 15 gigabytes of space, after extracting them from a nonstandard file system that Windows doesn’t actually support, after having to install Windows in the first place, just so I get to waste the next eight hours running software updates.