Chasing the light

Mysterious Earth | | August 17, 2010 at 2:41 am


I was sleeping like a baby lulled into a wonderful dream when the wheels caressed and then flew over the bump, and in that nanosecond my mind sprung to groggy life with my eyes still bleary. I was surprised, but it wasn’t the bump as much as much as finding a bump on silky ice that gilded the path we were on. Throwing off the sea of cloth I had buried myself under, I glance up at the windshield of the vehicle that was rapidly commandeering me to my destination. Against the sightless landscape, it was a little game I had devised along the way and I was playing against myself, trying to find the lowest temperature I could find displayed on the digital readout of the thermometer. Staring back at me was a nice round figure zero. Chilly is the word that comes to mind, but it doesn’t sum up the biting cold perfectly enough.

Through the chill, Roger’s eyes are stuck to the road ahead, or whatever he can make of it. There is nothing by way of illumination here bar the halogens on the truck and the dim glow of some of the onboard instrumentation, and I think for a very hairy split-second that Roger is flying by the seat of his pants, shepherding the car as if from memory. But even though I’ve known Roger for a short period of time, his steely gaze and focused countenance dispel any such notions from my head. He has somehow warded off the grasp of slumber and just soldiered on even as I was tucked away for quick forty winks (was it forty? It might have been more). It’s almost as if he is staring into the distance, but beyond us was only nothingness. This part of Canada was so far out west as to be almost devoid of life.

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Stretching and feeling the laziness creep out of bones and sinew, I realized foggily that it would soon be my turn to take the wheel and it was not an appetizing thought to have. Luckily for me, I had the strains of my favorite rock stars for company. Unluckily for me, Roger was not as much an aficionado as me and would perpetually request that I “turn that infernal noise down” which amused and irritated me equally. He dubbed the guitar work as “tweaky and shrieky”, and I would get him to enjoy the works of the finest rock gods if it was the last thing I did and it might well be. I don’t think it would be hard for Roger to take my scrawny form and break it over his knee if the desire possessed him. Why, he could even toss the body out here and no one would notice my corpse for months in this desolate expanse for months, maybe years. It would be the perfect crime.

But Roger strikes me as a genteel person, a pacifist if ever I saw one. He’s so shy when it comes to interacting with people that he shuns all interaction and all his worldly possessions fit in the back of a truck, or at least that’s my theory about him. You see, I met Roger only a few days back in Kenai and although the sky looked grizzly and worn like it might late into the evening, it really was only 10 a.m. when I bumped into Roger. Like me at my most ragingly alcoholic, the sun never lingers in a completely state.  Instead, it comes to life for a few hours every day, sways in the sky and teeters over a few hours later out of exhaustion. Our conversation was brief as we prepared to pack our things; our journey would take us due west, where we would hope to bear witness to that most wondrous of all things natural, the Aurora Borealis.

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Now, with not a sound being uttered, the beauty of that quest seemed lost on me but perhaps it is that Roger is more contemplative than I am and needs to keep all the ice and sound out, both achieved with one rolled-up window. Needing to take the wheel and break the monotony, I decided to do both with one swoop as I popped in some of the best hit-the-road-songs that I know in the form of Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd and more hallowed company. There was much on my mind as I settled into a driving rhythm but I could freely let my mind wander. This was not the big bad city where I had to be on my toes for a rash driver at every turn. The only thing that could veer off track was a snowflake that had caught a sudden cross-wind, and I could just plow through that without a worry. Thank the lord for technological advances.

Loud music eased me just as it irked Roger, and it helped me stay focused and at attention as I drove along. Somehow, we hit an acceptable middle ground in audible terms and I settled in to the sounds of ‘Comfortably Numb’ washing over me as I was witness to the world as I have never seen it before. Mountains stood tall and erect watching me as I passed through their land and allowing it to be so. The frozen lakes were mirrors deep into the earth’s soul and if you stared long enough into it you stood the risk of getting lost. Caribou roamed the valley as if it were their god-given right to do so, and in a way it was. They have been here forever and this snowy blanket is their playground just as much as I am out of my element.

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It was obviously untouched by mankind since longer than I might be able to comprehend and the tracks of humans that have passed through here have long since been covered up by the feathery snow. A few Buffalo’s, Elk and Moose too roam unhindered, tenants on god’s own reserve. Their lives and simple and untainted by anything, and passing through me was the same simple, peaceful, easy living I could see reflected in them. It was a feeling at once electric and primeval, like I was transported light years back in time in an instant. I felt at peace with the primitive world around me and were it not for the muted roar of the engine I’d have forgotten where I was.

Perhaps I did lose myself and forget where I was, for pretty soon a cry went up in the cabin.

“Wake up!!”

The lights came back on inside my head and my instincts told me I was going to crash into something or the other, maybe even something as innocuous as a snow bank. But nothing of the sort happened and my tense muscles automatically eased up before I pulled over into a soft pillow of snow and halted completely, killing our forward momentum. I asked Roger a bit gruffly what it was that he woke me up for before realizing rather foolishly that I should never have fallen to sleep in the first place while at the wheel. And then, framed against the canvas of the sky, I saw it. Whilst seated, it was hidden from plain sight by the trees, but once I got out (blankets in tow) it was as if a celestial hand had slathered shades of indigo, crimson and emerald high above us, and it was swirling and dancing a serpentine dance high above.

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It was the Northern Lights, and it was putting on a private show just for me at the very moment. The world and everything in it melted into insignificance as I let the moment overcome me. Every now and again, Mother Nature smacks you on the head and reminds you of just what the term awesome should really be used for. I stood there with Roger for god alone knows how long, silent and at peace. My journey had come to an end, and in that window of time I experienced calm like no other. A multi-colored calm that swayed and lulled you into a worriless state, and it was my personal slice of heaven here in the middle of nowhere.

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  1. Christine says:

    The article is amazing. I Like the way you put your imaginations in to words.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Paris =-.

  2. Chris says:

    hey!!! i agree with Christine but i wish you had been more descriptive about the lights…

  3. anna says:

    hullo!!! dude can you lemme know where did u start your ride from and how long did u have to drive till u got the first glimpse of the lights…thanks =)
    .-= anna´s last blog ..Paris =-.

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