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Wednesday November 10, 2004: Personal: Northern Lights

             I've lost the meadow in the back, behind my yard.  They warned me when I bought the house that it was due to be developed, but for a long time development was blocked by legal hassles and transfers through various owners.  For fifteen years I've been able to sit at my kitchen table and look out over a meadow of wild grasses, scattered with an ever changing assortment of wildflowers.

         My backyard faces east.  Summer and autumn mornings were spent watching the sunrise over fields blanketed by ground fog.  Warm nights were spent in my bench swing, the lights from other houses blocked from view. As fireflies flashed across the tall grasses and crickets fiddled their love tunes, I could swing gently, gazing into a clear night sky.  In August and November, I could bundle up and head for the back yard, where (leaning back on the bench swing or laying on my back on the deck) I'd soak in the stillness of the night, watching the falling stars, remembering earlier days of childhood.

        When the developers finally came this fall, I was not crushed to have lost the meadow -- not the way I thought I would be. Time marches on, I told myself, and I was grateful I'd had fifteen years to enjoy the quiet, the space, the wildness of it. To the west lay neighborhoods filled with children laughing and playing; cars and trucks and lawnmowers and everything else that reminded me of community. To the east lay the meadow and escape from hectic schedules back into the gentle cycles of nature. For fifteen years it had been the balance needed by a single mother rearing three boys, days crammed with activities and obligations. This was where I came in my free time, to reconnect with eternal cycles of nature, to recharge my internal batteries.

             The thought just occurred to me yesterday that once the meadow was fully developed (they have just paved the streets so far), my clear night sky would be lost -- too many house lights and street lights. I was delighted to hear that Monday night the northern lights had put on a spectacular display south of Canada; they were expected to be visible for several nights in the upper states of the U.S. they said, if you were lucky enough to have a clear night sky.

          Michigan has had so much rain this year that most nights have had cloud cover.  I'd already missed many of this year's night wonders, but luck was with me Tuesday night; the sky was clear and cloudless.  I kept bundling up and wandering outside every half hour to peer at the northern sky. I saw nothing. Perhaps there was already too much light pollution I decided, and finally resigned myself to bed, convinced I'd missed another opportunity to see the aurora borealis.

            I awoke at 2:30 and the optimist in me drew back the window shade to peer out the only bedroom window that faces north.  There they were, streaks and flashes and tall columns of light.  I leaned over the dresser, resting on my elbows to get closer to the view, peering up at the beauty and wonder of it.  My cat became curious and hopped to the dresser. Confused by my raptured gaze, he carefully examined all around the window, trying to locate whatever little bug or object could hold his mistress's attention.  Finding nothing, he wandered back to the edge of the dresser, and leapt back to the bed.

           I continued watching until my eyelids grew heavy and common sense told me I needed sleep to function the next day at work. I crawled back into bed, content to have finally caught a glimpse of the aurora borealis this far south in Michigan.  My cat snuggled up close to me and we both drifted back to sleep.          

Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 05:55AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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