Prequel: As I am editing this post almost 2 years later, I realize how far my photography has come, how far I still have to go, and honestly how terrible it was when I started! I left this post as is because it was the first time I had seen the Aurora and the impact was SO big.
I’ve always been an early riser, but on occasion, I may whine a little bit about waking at 5:40 to get Bridger up for his early morning seminary class. This morning, he wanted me to wake he and Summer up at 5:15 to have breakfast at a friends house.
I hadn’t slept well, so I was a little groggy and had visions of getting back in bed after letting the dogs out. Rio goes out front so the old dog can have some peace, and Rogue goes out back because she’s nuts.
As I opened the back door, I was surprised to see a few stars shining against the horizon as the first rays of the sunrise were beginning to peak over the mountains. It’s been overcast in the mornings, so I stepped out to get a better look.
My jaw hit the deck, I shrieked with joy and ran to grab the camera.
A coworker had mentioned at work the other day that a big solar flare was currently happening. That’s a sign that the Northern Lights will be especially active.
We chatted as a group and one lady said, “I’ve been here 3 years and never seen the Northern Lights. You just can’t see them in the city very well, and I’m not about to get up at 4 a.m. to drive out to the hills.”
While we don’t live in Anchorage, I still figured if I was going to see them, I’d have to go up Hatcher’s Pass, or to Chena Hot Springs by Fairbanks.
Instead, I was staring at the cosmos on fire in my yard, awestruck by the spectacle.
Summer’s lunch would be cafeteria today as I threw that task by the wayside, and ran out the front door.
Anyone that knows me well would not be the least bit surprised that I would be wandering around my driveway in a cotton bathrobe with flip flops on in 45 degree temperatures looking up at the heavens exclaiming my amazement loudly.
My neighbors don’t know me well, so I’m glad I’m not on 72 hour lock-down somewhere!
Bridger and Summer came out to join me, and I dragged Jeff out of the shower to watch it.
I am a novice photographer, and honestly have no idea how to shoot in the dark, so I just pointed the camera straight up, opened up the shutter and snapped some pictures.
I could see that the shots were a little blurry as I was breathing hard with excitement: the camera was moving and the aurora was moving. My next purchase will be a tripod.
I climbed on the car, and lay down on the wet hood trying to stabilize the shots. I will learn, but hopefully some of the beauty comes through in my first attempt to capture the Northern Lights.
The Aurora Borealis was unlike anything I have ever seen before. It was literally a spiritual experience to see the heavens consumed with ever changing ethereal colors.
Patterns of light danced and exploded as charged particles streamed across the sky. Hues of green, yellow, purple, and pink intertwined creating a fireworks display no human substitute can match.
I am humbled and in awe to have witnessed one of nature’s miracles.
I now understand the allure of the Northern Lights. To see it again, I’ll get up at anytime of night and go where ever I need to in Alaska to find it. The visual experience was that powerful.
Next time though, I’ll be fully clothed and better prepared to photograph it.
I’m reflecting as I write this on conversations I’ve had with a few people. I’m surprised to hear comments like “The Northern Lights? I’ve seen it before.”, or “It’s not worth getting up early or staying up late.”
I will never get tired of seeing natural miracles.
I see moose all the time, but still stop to watch. I look at the flowers, colors of the leaves, fish in the stream, and trees on my walks.
I never tired of sunrise over Tetons in Idaho, sunsets in Arizona, red rocks and mountains in Utah, the craggy Oregon coast, or ocean waves in Hawaii. Vistas like these fuel wonder in the soul.
If I ever loose that wonder and become complacent about something this beautiful…It will be time for me to leave the earth.
I’m so thankful this morning that I walked out with the dog, and didn’t crawl back in bed.