But does any of that matter in comparison to the spectacular Northern Lights show we had last night?
It didn’t look good for the Lights in the morning and early afternoon. It was incredibly windy (sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts up to 60) and it had been raining hard all day.
But the skies cleared by sunset and it was gorgeous with a bright, low-hanging moon. Sure, it was still windy, but there were big portions of the sky that were clear.
I had a feeling we might get some aurora action this evening because the sky was relatively clear and the forecast on each of my five aurora apps was looking good.
But first, I took some amazing photos coming back up to the house at the end of Civil Twilight:
And then came the lights. I got an alert around 8:30 p.m. and went outside. Another of the artists here texted the group that the aurora was faint, but should pick up within a half-hour or so.
We all wound up on a hill about 100 yards above town watching until the aurora petered out and we went back inside.
At around 10:00, I got another alert and went back out. It was a bit cold, but incredibly windy. I wondered back up to where I’d seen the lights earlier, but couldn’t see anything. I was on the way back when I looked up and saw a bright ribbon across the sky. I went to the big field across from the house where I’m staying and watched for about 45 minutes as the green light moved and danced over my head. The wind threatened to blow me over and I thought about going inside, but I waited until the ribbon faded.
Then at 11:30, there was another text about an even bigger show of lights. I went back out again and could instantly see the bright green band right outside.
I managed to get a pretty good video (aurora videos are much harder to get than still photos because usually you can get your camera to hold the lens open longer to get a good still, but the video just records what the naked eye can see) and there was a decent display that only lasted about ten minutes.
All in all, this was the best and most intense aurora experience I’ve had.
If you’ve never seen the aurora in person, it is many, many, many times better than seeing photos or videos. We’re in a peak aurora year (the aurora goes in 11-year cycles) and it’s been visible far further south than most years. So… get out there if you can. As good as you think it is, the experience of seeing full-on Northern Lights in person is even better.
One of my favorite pieces I’ve written here is a new origin myth about the aurora. I could always understand intellectually how people would see the Northern Lights and think of gods and celestial beings, but now I get it on a deeper emotional level. Right down to my bones.
Also, the moon looked pretty amazing as the winds blew the clouds in front of it (and I also wrote a new origin myth explaining how the moon came to be and what it symbolizes):
I had to finish up some stuff for a client in L.A., so I spent a bunch of time in the morning doing that.
After, I went up in the mountains a little with Clio and Maz. Clio is filming a music video for a song she wrote here and wanted to use some footage from the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone.
It seemed like yesterday was the perfect day. It was sunny, relatively warm (about 40 degrees F) and not much wind. Still, I was wary given my misadventure, so we went up a little on the mountain and I took the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone up about four feet five or six times and it couldn’t hover and kept crashing.
Maz had something else she had to go do, so Clio and I went down to the meadow by the campground (with the big Everygreen Trees). Being about 100 feet lower and having the trees protect us made it possible to have some control in flying the Sitka P. Coldfoot Memorial Drone (at least when it was below 25 feet). We got about seven minutes of footage that looks pretty cool in two different locations — and hopefully that will give Clio enough of what she needs.
Afterwards, I went back to the Fish Factory and revised one of my previous stories and wrote a new one. (That’s 19 in 20 days.)
Here’s a few photos from the day and evening (including a couple of me and Wonderhund Tumi):
Afterwards, I went back to the Fish Factory and wrote another new story. That’s 18 in 19 days if you’re keeping track of such things. (There’s two up on my Patreon and a third coming tomorrow morning.)
By the way, I posted this photo from the Fish Factory’s kitchen/lounge area last night.
So imagine my surprise this morning when I walked in and saw this:
And then six of us had a communal dinner and hung out reading tarot cards and talking, which was an enormous amount of fun. My tarot card reading pretty much confirmed much of what I’ve been feeling (and why I chose to come to this residency in the first place). Wheee!
Once upon a time in the Eastfjords, there was a girl named Petra. The name Petra means “rock” and from an early age, Petra loved rocks.
She would go into the hills and mountains behind Stöðvarfjörður and collect rocks, often returning with a full rucksack containing as much as 80 pounds of rocks.
Now, Iceland is a volcanic place and rocks have a big history here.
But perhaps no one outside the scientific area loved rocks as much as Petra.
For decades, she collected rocks and brought them to her home.
Eventually, there were too many rocks inside and they basically had taken over her house.
So, Petra moved the new rocks (and there were always new rocks) out to the garden.
Word of her collection spread and for decades people would come to her house and she would gladly show them her collection. She always refused to take money for this service and was happy to share her love of rocks and her glowing collection with people. But eventually, there was a need to care for the house and the collection and Petra and her family started charging admission.
Sadly, Petra died a few years ago, but her Stone collection lives on, with her family now running the business.
Many people driving the Ring Road in the summers stop here. The fact that it’s one of the few things to see (besides the unending beauty of the natural landscape) for hundreds of miles.
There’s some attempt to include educational materials (and perhaps pass this bunch of barely organized rocks as a “museum”), but it’s mostly just rocks. Some have been painted. Some have been carved into odd and amusing shapes. Others have googly-eyes pasted upon them.
There’s also a collection of pens, for no real reason. And matchboxes. And handkerchiefs.
And a strangely foreboding wooden statue of Petra.
So, what does all this mean? I’m not sure. There’s more than a touch of “Hoarders” to all this and it’s not clear exactly what we’re meant to take away from this.
But there’s a gift shop. And you can buy rocks from a bin (if you don’t like to think of looking for your own rocks in town and picking them up) or handmade jewelry and other goofy things.
Really, your guess is as good as mine.
Despite all that, I’m glad I went.
And I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to go back.
Usually Petra’s is closed after the summer, but they arranged to open it specially for us. So a group of eight of us trudged down there (it’s maybe a half-mile from the Fish Factory) and wandered around trying to decide what to make of it.
And then I came back and wrote a new story about how exact measurements nearly killed off the old gods. (As one does.)
Another day without too many photos, just a lot of work in the studio.
I did audio recordings of two of my favorite stories (so far) up in the recording studio, went for a short hike, came back and wrote the first draft of the 14th story in 14 days. (Woo-hoo!)
I’m thinking I should probably devote a day or two down the line to revising some of the stories I already have, but I’m not sure when that will happen.
The story I wrote today was about Death… which had me thinking a lot about… well… death and the people I know who’ve died in the past few years.
In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Daniel Lent, who passed away about a month ago. He and his wife Kristie lived in Alaska and he was always wonderful, smart, funny, and kind. I met him through my interest in the Iditarod (where he and Kristie were huge supporters and volunteers). He was a vibrant part of the #MusherTwitter community as well as the #UglyDogs community (supporters of BraverMountain mushing, Blair Braverman and Quince Mountain). Last week, I taped an open letter to Dan as a tribute. I posted it today (and am reposting it here).
Meanwhile, on the way back up to the house, I spotted a house with Christmas lights up.
As you can see, the blue, green, and red lights move.