The Early Days of a Better Nation

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Northern Lights over South Queensferry

Last night around midnight, on my way back from the very successful Writers' Bloc Hallowe'en gig 'How the West Went Weird', I noticed what looked like a very odd-shaped moonlit cloud at the zenith, on a moonless night. Misty and complex at the centre, with great straight streaks radiating from it, some of them all the way to the horizon. For the second time in my life I was seeing the aurora borealis. The first time was when I was a small child in Lewis, carried out wrapped in a blanket by my parents. I could never have described what I saw, beyond a vague impression, but I knew last night that I was seeing what I'd seen then. I'd been half-expecting aurorae as a result of the current solar storm, and rather startled my daughter, who'd been at the gig with me, by saying 'Look at that!'

We were almost at our house and dragged out Mrs Early and Master Early, already in their dressing-gowns. Ms Early and I watched it for much longer than they did. After about half an hour it faded a bit, but not before some faint but breathtaking shifts and flickers and pulses.


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