Oh, the tundra sponge it was golden brown, and some was a bright blood-red…

We took another little road trip on Saturday, heading South and East to visit family. For three hours of the trip, from the outskirts of Calgary all the way to Medicine Hat, the Northern Lights danced out our driver’s side windows.

In a word, awesome.

They were green and yellow, and shaped first like clouds and then like castles and then like slides and escalators. And they danced! They got brighter and they faded away and strands of colour came down to touch the horizon.

We pulled off the highway so as not to risk driving into the ditch. (Good call).

I’ve only seen the Northern Lights a handful of times. Once as a child, around Easter. We were in Greenspond having a cousin slumber-party when the parents woke us up and dragged us outdoors to see the Northern Lights over the mish. I remember it being cold out, and the whole sky was grayish-green.

I went to Labrador a bunch of times for various xc ski races and adventures, but never was fortunate enough to see the lights.

Then I spent several summers and one fall working in St. Anthony (where I really recommend you all visit) and one night was woken by two friends shouting from the back yard.

“Miss Button! Miss Button!” (Yes, I have friends who call me Miss…) “Put some clothes on and get out here!”

We bottomed out the Camry several times as we took the dirt road up to the old American army base above town. There we whistled and played the harmonica and shouted at the sky, and the lights were green and purple and blue, and lit up all of the northern sky.

The lights on Saturday were particularly poignant for me, as my current job involves lots of learning about Labrador and the North. Telecommuting over three time zones has its challenges, but the Northern Lights made me feel more connected than any of the hundred e-mails I wrote last week.

Today is Family Day, and while I am working on Newfoundland time (where today is just a regular Monday/deadline day/day at the office), we went out for lunch together to a restaurant where, when we asked for crayons, served up a portable DVD player and a choice of Disney classics for Sylvia.


None of the films on offer could stand up to the Northern Lights show of Saturday night, so we passed on the DVD player and instead played slapsies and tickle monster… both of which would probably make the Approved Family Day List Of Activities miles ahead of movies at the table.

And if she got a little tispsy, well at least she was getting tipsy with the family.

That's good stuff.

Thanks, Alberta, for the Northern Lights and the sanctioned family day. Couldn’t have done it without you.

*Title from Robert Service’s The Ballad of the Northern Lights. A good read. Not one of my party tricks (whereby I recite The Cremation of Sam McGee), but still one of my favourites. Stare and shrink! — say! you wouldn’t think that I was a millionaire


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