Friday, December 15, 2006

Of Darkness, Candles, and Snow

You may have heard on the news about our Major Storm yesterday. Major Storm - sounds like a cartoon character, or a weatherman. Anyway, yes, it was a doozy!

A little after six o'clock we watched the trees begin to sway, and twist, and full-on watusi. Soon, debris was rolling and tumbling down the street: air filled plastic bags, huge unstowed garbage cans, and branches that had been torn from their limbs. Our trees lost a few smaller branches, nothing dangerous. This, for our area, is quite a significant distraction from the norm. Unusual weather gives us a buzz.

Around six thirty the power went out, right in the middle of It Takes a Thief, that show on Discovery with the two hunky reformed thieves who teach people about security by trashing their homes and robbing them blind. (Did that grumpy guy EVER get over Jon taking his classic 'vette?) Yep, the power flickered, went out, nope back on, nope out, yes, uh huh, okay, yyeeaaah's gone.

When the power goes out here you pretty much just sit there for a moment or two because it usually comes back on. Not last night. We sat. We watched. I went outside. I'm getting over my cold, but not there yet. Still, I sat on the porch to watch the darkness. Don't worry, warm temperatures and thick clothes protected me. The kids made sure of it. All their hard work getting me well was not to be undone by a stupid dark-watching session.

While sitting on the porch I witnessed a few blasts and flashes of transformers blowing. Startling. Several blocks were out of power, cars began to drive slower down the street, people began to leave their homes. (Hmm, good time for a home robbery; yes, I watch too much TV.) It was peaceful. "I need to see how far and wide this outage goes," so the girls and I hopped into the car and drove around, just as the sideways downpour began, making the wipers' high speed seem like low/intermittent. Street lights were out, yet patient politeness ruled the night. Sweet! How odd to have a black hole in front of me while driving these familiar roads, when I'm used to being able to see all the way down the street due to street and house lights. Just weird. Like driving a country road - but we're in town!

Home again. Sitting there. Looking at each other. Quiet. Candles and oil lamps burning. How many times did Cassie go into the kitchen, flip the light switch, sag her shoulders, and sigh? We lost count. Habit supersedes cognizance. Words began to come. Quiet words of reminiscence, teasing, giggles, laughter. Togetherness in blankets. Peace settling in. Three hours and counting. This isn't so bad.

The winds continued to rip down the street and howl over the house. Through our large living room window I lazily kept my eyes on the silhouetted outdoor scene, when, what to my wandering eyes doth appear, but a sky-filling dark lime green glow, descending curtain-like, intensifying, wavering, shimmering, and eventually snaking away.

Huh? Wha??? Did you see that? What WAS that?? "Oh, Mama, you are so faking; you're trying to scare us."

"No, she's still hallucinating.....," snorts Joe.

"No, I'm not!! It was green.....the ENTIRE EASTERN SKY!"

Jabbering, I returned to the porch. A few moments later, there it was again, more northerly. And later, it came again, only reddish. The girls witnessed these flashes.

Vindication - snort.

My computer brain began to decode what I'd seen. It remembered an article on The Drudge Report about a solar storm currently taking place, a big one, which was having its effect on the Earth.

Land Sakes! I think I saw the Northern Lights!! Aurora Borealis!!


To see the Aurora Borealis with my own eyes has long been high on my list of Things To Do Before I Die.

It was gloriously frightening. It was as awesome, startling, and as ethereal as I'd hoped. Maybe even more so because it was a mystery for several minutes.

Thank you, Matt Drudge, wherever you are.

Thank you Mother Nature for your storm.

Thank you God for all of the above.

And thanks, power fixing dudes, for restoring our lights, just in time for bed.

Morning has brought hail, sleet, snow - and blue sky sunshine. Buzz!

It really is the simple things in life.

Good photos of Aurora Borealis - these July 22, 2004 photos show pretty much what I saw last night, as far as color and form. Amazing to me to learn that these lights are visible to those of us in the Lower 48 all year long, but for the light pollution of the city which obliterates them from view. Thanks to God for his gift of good timing last night, which allowed me a magnificent blessing!


Pam said...

Oooh, color me green with envy! I have never seen the Aurora Borealis... And color me green with envy over all your dramatic weather too. Do you realize that you guys have gotten more snow than we have this season?? We have had only flurries, and have broken the record as far as how long into the winter we've gone with no measurable snow. No white Christmas this year for us... it's weird.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful, colorful descriptive account of your fabulous storm! And glad you are on the mend.

Imp said...

I saw those, too, but couldn't figure out what it was. I looked for newspaper articles about the storm and there was no mention. You'd think that that would be mentioned! That's so cool. I thought it was either a BIG transformer or aliens :)

Cherie said...

I know!! Why don't they say anything? I'm glad you got to see them, too. I think I saw them once before, some years back, but it happened so quickly that I thought I was seeing things. Blink. Blink. Nah....

I'm going to watch for them now!

And, Pam, I know you'll get snow eventually. =) Also, thanks for the nice words. I do feel better today - much!

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is cool. James will be envious to learn you saw the northern lights.

I'm so glad to begin reading your blog. Must sleep now, though, because we just got home from a trip to Tacoma, where we spent the night in my aunt's all-electric home with no power, due to their dramatic storm experience.

It's great to be in a warm house again! And to be reading great stories like yours!