I am lucky enough to have witnessed the Northern Lights twice in my life and both times where some of the most memorable moments in my life. First in Northern Ireland and then in Canada, the memories of both will forever be so vivid in my mind.
The first time was a few years ago while I was driving to my university house. It was late on a Sunday night, maybe 10 or 11, and I was travelling the lonely, dark section of road between Belfast and Coleraine. The road was pitch black beyond my car lights, the sky was dark and clear and something in my gut told me to just look up. I will never forget thinking that the sky seemed a little odd, and a thought ran through my head…….” Are the Northern Lights about to start?” and then I laughed at myself, thinking I was just imagining it all. And that’s when it happened. The whole sky turned green. The sight literally took my breath away. The lights danced across the sky for 10 minutes, fading in and out across the darkness. It felt like the longest time, but as soon as it stopped it, it wasn’t enough. There was roadworks along the stretch of road, leaving only a single lane and nowhere to pull over so the few cars that shared the road with me were all travelling at a snail’s pace.
Even though I spent many a night out looking for the lights, it was more special to be surprised by them, although I would have loved to try and get a photo of them.
The second time was while I was living in Lac La Biche, a small lakeside town in Alberta, Canada. It had been a great day; I had been out canoeing with friends and spotted my first ever beaver which I was very excited about. It was the night of the finale episode of Game of Thrones, a night that I had been waiting for, for a long time, as did many people around the world. So, me and a few friends gathered in a small living room, with a projector and watched the episode. When it was finished there was much to discuss, and many emotions entailed; anger, disappointment and confusion. As one guy decided to head to bed, he walked outside and returned within 30 seconds, running and shouting “NORTHERN LIGHTS”. Immediately we all leapt to our feet and ran outside to see. As I looked up, I saw that familiar green dancing across the sky. It was amazing to share this experience with others, seeing the awe and excitement in everyone’s faces made it all the better. We decided to hop in a few trucks, and travel to a local park to find darker skies. The next hour, maybe a little longer was one of my favourite experiences in Canada so far. The park we went to, was along the shores of a large lake, and we found a pier to lie down on. Laying on our backs, side by side, we just stayed in silence for a while, watching. The green faded further and further until it was a pale white, but it still danced just as vividly across the sky. I knew Gabe had grew up in Northern Canada, seeing the lights his whole life, but I thought he was just pulling my leg when he said that they will get stronger if you sing or whistle to them. I can neither whistle or sing and didn’t want to embarrass myself, so I pushed him to prove it. The lights were well dimmed down when Gabe started to whistle and suddenly that strong green flashed across the sky again. It was magic. And just like before, the Northern Lights took my breath away. Gabe continued to whistle, and the lights danced to his song.
If you are ever lucky enough to see the Aurora in your lifetime, sing to them and see if the myth is true.