Northern Lights

Geese on fine form
Geese on fine form

Time again slipping away from this blog with trips to Wales and the continuation of my course with the SRUC, but worth recording a phenomenal encounter with the Northern Lights in Dumfries on Wednesday night. At first it simply seemed as if the Northern horizon was particularly bright with light pollution, but a closer look revealed a vast blue arc which stretched right across the sky, doubling back on itself and squirming lugubriously like a hooked eel. Flares of yellow shone through the show, and then a series of extraordinary vertical shafts of light reared up into the centre of the sky, accompanied by the sound of our various “ooh”s and “aah”s. And then in ten minutes, the show had collapsed and the enormous shapes had become little more than a sombre blueing glow towards Thornhill and Kilmarnock.

I have seen the Northern Lights before from Galloway, but never with such clarity and drama. It had been an unexpected encounter, and it was interesting to compare the reality of the spectacle I had seen at first hand with some of the more lurid and improbable photographs which started to appear on the internet later that evening as local photographers vied to produce the most garish reproduction of the Lights, taking full advantage of Photoshop.

The following morning, the same sky was crowded with massive tangles of pink-footed geese coming up from the Solway to feed for the day in Nithsdale. There was almost the same rolling swirl in the massed lines of belling birds as there had been in the plunge and curl of the Lights twelve hours before, and the comparison seemed strangely relevant as the ranks of wildfowl passed noisily overhead.


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