Even after years of searching for the Earth’s most beautiful places, there are still sights waiting to be seen that cannot only take my breath away but bring tears to my eyes.
My interest in the northern lights, more formally known as the aurora borealis, began years ago on a trip to Alaska. I often heard my father ask locals about this phenomenon caused by the collision of charged particles with atoms high
in the atmosphere, but as it was summer there was no chance of our seeing it ourselves. Still the idea of the lights lingered in my head and was one of the first things I thought of when putting together my bucket list last year.
After reading in an article that this year would mark a 50 year peak in the lights’ activity I decided there was no time like the present and planned a trip to the far north of Sweden well above the arctic circle – it was worth the trip.
It took a few days for the weather to clear and for the aurora forecast (yes, such a thing exists) to be favorable, but when that night came my friend and I hiked out of town into the dark Arctic night. We climbed a closed ski slope to find the best view possible. It was a hard climb, but when the heavens put on a show you want front row seats.
When I was a child I used to imagine traveling through space, seeing images like the ones from the pages of National Geographic. Now that I’m older I know such a trip is unlikely, but fortunately even with both feet planted firmly on the ground I was able to see stars sparkle on a canvas of green, white and purple light which burned across the night sky. The aurora danced and shimmered as it shifted through and endless variety of shapes until, finally directly overhead, it seemed to rain down on us.
This trip north has been a long and difficult one, but I’m confident that years from now, when the thoughts of financial trouble and cold nights have faded from memory I will remember that sea of green in the sky and the night I first saw the northern lights.“The stars are putting on their glittering belts.
They throw around their shoulders cloaks that flash
Like a great shadow’s last embellishment.” -Wallace Stevens