Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Spectacle in the Sky!

It was 10pm on Tuesday night. I was among a busload of tourists who had been driven some 30 minutes out of Reykjavic and were now standing out in the open, near the coast. I was there by myself, the kids having stayed back to rest because we had a flight to catch in 8 hours. But such common sense was not in my itinerary. It was the first clear night since we arrived and my last chance to see the northern lights!

Bitterly cold doesn't begin to describe how cold it was. I was dressed in "all" the woollens that I had carried in my bag, and still I was miserable.

The tour guide was pointing to the sky, showing us faint white light arcs right above us and some faint columns over the beach. People had their cameras out, but not me. It was too cold to remove the gloves to operate my camera, which anyway was not capturing anything.

The faint glow was nothing special. It could  easily pass off as a thin cloud cover.  Where were the glorious green lights one sees in pictures? The guide then mentioned that good cameras capture the green lights far better than human eyes. I peeped into a person's camera to see the pictures he had taken. It indeed showed green streaks. That really deflated me. Were we all simply fooled by digitally enhanced pictures?

After 30 minutes of more of the same, it was decided that the show was over. I climbed back into the bus, grateful for its warmth, greedily thinking about the 1 hour of sleep I will get before catching the bus to the airport.

Just then, the guide shouted that all of us needed to be out of the bus immediately. We tumbled out and that's when time as if stood still for me. Beautiful pale green lights danced gently in the sky and in my eyes! The sky right over the airport was a huge canvas on which these green glowing shifting shapes were painted. A cosmic laser show! My breath was knocked out from my chest. A woman next to me was screeching in delight and I realized that so was I. We were exceptions- everyone else was so civilized about it and busy with their cameras. Somehow, we managed to exchange information about each other- she was Mexican and travelling with her mother. A noisy group hug between the woman, her mother and me happened instinctively as another green arc opened up on the side. The shapes morphed and we were in rapture.

The spectacle in the sky lasted five minutes before fading out. We were still hugging each other when the mother began weeping, saying "thank you, thank you God for showing me this sight" in her language. I didn't thank any god, but my eyes were misty too!

(This is not an image from last night. I didn't bother taking any pictures. This is something I copied from the internet. What we saw was almost like this, but paler in color.)