Friday Night Lights in the Arctic

No, we don’t have stadium lights…or even a football team. In fact, basketball and wrestling are the big sports in our village.

You might ask yourself, ‘What does one do on a Friday Night?‘.

Well, with my roommate traveling with the cross country team, my plans had been to take George, her basset hound, out for a long beach walk. Then, I would skip my run and do some lesson plans and grading (because when the motivation calls and energy allows, you must take advantage of it). I was going to finish off my night with a small dinner, some quilting, and reading a book in bed until about 10:00pm (that’s always the plan although actual sleep time may vary depending on the book).

I did NONE of those things yesterday. Okay, I did one and a half. I started grading and then while on the beach walk with George, the trajectory of my evening changed.

(Yes Mom, I forgot about dinner…but that WASN’T my intention, and I promise I’ll post pictures of the meals I have been eating so you know that I am taking care of myself (or more so…being taken care of).

Fish were in the channel and students were lined up, snagging them with ease. I watched for a while and then took George back before joining them for the evening.

After trying to fillet them…and mostly succeeding, I took out the garbage and ended up stopping by a coworker’s house. Returning gloves turned into a long visit and suddenly it was 11:00pm, well past my intended bedtime.

George wanted to go out for one last bathroom break. It was past his bedtime as well.

After locking us in and turning off the light, the near full moon caught my attention. It was sitting low in the sky above the water and the reflection of it on the ocean and the channel was picturesque. Naturally, I attempted to take a picture of it. Photos never capture the actual beauty of a moment in the way I hope they would, but they do serve as reminders for me of moments when I was utterly awed.

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While I stared out the window, a white smoke like movement caught my eye. Streaks of white seemed to come from behind the recently filled fuel tanks. It seemed like someone was having a bonfire on a beach. That was until they expanded and I noticed more streaks.

I rushed to grab the tripod and check them out. This had to be the Northern Lights, I thought to myself. A coworker had mentioned seeing them a few nights prior (at 3am), but she had mentioned they were white. I had just been making plans to keep an eye out and let other coworkers know if they were out, when the Northern Lights seemed to appear.

I didn’t think I’d see them anytime soon. It seemed to easy. Almost as if God was like, here you go, the perfect ending to your lovely Alaskan afternoon.

The green strips of light stretched across the sky above me and touched the horizon where the last bit of twilight was peeking through before it too was taken over by night.

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As I fumbled trying to figure out the settings and learning how to switch my camera from auto focus to manual focus, a small group of teachers and children assembled. (While students find themselves enjoying their Friday nights by riding around until late, teachers are often exhausted and in bed early.)

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“Did you know that if you whistle loud enough the lights will come down and chop off your head?”

That was a comment from a former student of mine. Students last year had mentioned it and she now realized that it was highly unlikely, but it reminded me of a YA fantasy book that has yet to be written.

We walked to our edge of the island as the lights shifted from the ocean side to the lagoon. They started dancing across the sky and bits of bright colors joined the light green. They’d fade briefly into a white cloud and then back to a gentle green, changing shapes in the sky.

After an hour or so, our fingers were cold and the show had died down. The teachers made their way home with the promise to share pictures and contact one another if a vibrant show was out.

It was the perfect end to a lovely Friday, the best way to beat off the usual exhaustion of a Friday. Like a well earned reward after a long week (and the sixth week of teaching), it brightened my spirits more than it brightened the sky and I felt like a giddy child all over again.

 

Happy Dozinky Days to my family back home. Although I miss the car cruise and good food, this was a welcome alternative.

 

Related Post: Chasing the Northern Lights

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