Awesome # 64: Northern Lights

Last night I hosted a potluck at my house. After the seven of us savoured a hearty meal (we ate butternut squash soup, baked potatoes, salad, baked cauliflower and roasted duck, which we followed with chocolate chip cookies and tea), which was infused with much pleasant conversation, we moved the “party” outside for a few moments’ northern lights viewing.

On the way out the door, I grabbed my camera in the vain hope that I would be able to capture the lights shimmering over my house. I had not much luck, however, as the lights from the village washed them out, and it was -50 degrees Celsius and I had no pualuuk.

The northern lights (aqsarniit, or ᐊᖅᓴᕐᓃᑦ in Inuktitut) are quite possibly my favourite phenomenon. While historically, from an Inuit perspective, the Northern Lights have been feared (as children were often told that they captured those who misbehaved and stole them away into the sky), I believe in an alternative perspective (also Inuit) – that they are sky people dancing in the night. The Northern Lights are too beautiful to steal children.

The northern lights are awesome because I find them truly awe-inspiring. Every time I look into the sky to watch them, I’m reminded that there is something bigger and much more complex in the universe than finite humanity can comprehend. As I wrote in an old blog post:

While the lights shimmering above me are electrical interactions in the atmosphere explainable by Chemistry, I can always feel that they were an amazing part of something even more amazing at work. I find comfort in the fact that I could sit back and enjoy the unpredictable spinning and streaking and seemingly sporadic display of the lights in the sky above me as they unfolded into something exquisite, knowing that their unfolding involved much more than particles and atoms.

And no matter who I’m with, when I’m watching the northern lights, I’m able to just be in the moment, in absolute exhilaration.

The northern lights shining over my house 

Me, Stephanie, Thierry, Jeff, Catherine and Kevin (and Nick behind the camera) – the “qallunaat tourists” watching the northern lights outside of my house


One response to “Awesome # 64: Northern Lights

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