I’m not sure if it’s the month and a half to two months of some of the most challenging autumn aurora season weather in four years for me, or if it’s the genuine exhilaration of getting to some baby clear breaks after a long, fairly ominous drive out of town, but I loved this. I loved the clear breaks, the sight of some aurora through broken cloud and optimism of further clear breaks on the horizon. It was good.
Finally. September has been exhausting. But finally after a day of blizzards, breaks of sun, and broken cloud cover, the clouds gave it up for a few hours with the exact right timing. More of this please.
It’s 10pm, we’re trying to get far out of town to less cloud, and almost immediately above us the sky opens to stars everywhere. So we have no choice but to find the nearest driveway off the highway for a few minutes, and unfortunately the clear sky passes quickly, cloud again eats away at the aurora, and we continue on. It wasn’t a perfect night, but the aurora did break back through for a little dance.
The additional 190 kilometres from where we ended up at 2am yesterday shouldn’t have been for nothing. It should have been everything. But, and I know you’ll be surprised, all our clear breaks forming at the northwest disappeared in about the hour and a half it took us to get up as far north as the highway would take us. So we followed clear breaks sitting some 40km off the highway almost all the way back to town where finally they began intersecting with the highway. Again, miraculously, the timing was about perfect.
We left town with adequate clear skies above us, so a long drive to put some distance between us and the approaching clouds wasn’t immediately necessary, but we were playing the long game tonight. An arc of aurora stayed right above us through our drive, and if you can’t escape into altogether clear skies, then this is the way to be. A cloud bank growing on the horizon, and an auroral break-up towering above, swirling and dancing. The perspective is beautiful.
Our timing was at the least, very, very fortunate - getting settled outside just a few minutes before she started to dance. Then as the aurora wound down some time later, the clouds covered us up making it an easy decision to begin the drive back home. It was a perfect script.
Something a little unexpected was in the sky as I was leaving the house. Against a moonlight flooded eastern sky, the aurora - already. Conditions were interesting, but it was a little surprising to me to see so much so soon. She didn’t wait long before forcing our hand in pulling just off the highway for a little while she danced with colour too. All the way until 3am, her surprises became more predictable and we ended to her dancing above hotels back in town.
It all happened by accident, but it’s a photo for the archives. Turning our attention away from the different bird noises somewhere not too distant, I shot some trees against the faint glow of the aurora, and when I zoomed in to check my focus, it was an owl perched a top the tallest tree on the hill. How’s that for a little lady luck.
The night was looking good enough to last minute shuffle pick-up times for guests. This was evidenced by my beautiful neighbours walking into their driveways as I was getting ready to leave the house. Seeing a few of them outside looking up, shivering, but enjoying the aurora dance for a few minutes just outside their homes is a neat feeling, and in the midst of the madness of the busiest time of the year, it’s a nice little fresh love and appreciation to this life.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. We weren’t supposed to run to clear skies early and cling to temporary clear breaks the rest of the way. It was forecast to be the opposite, but sometimes you take what you can and appreciate the moments of surprise anyway.
I think that’s what most would call a belief in the weather forecasts for Yellowknife.
Tonight we made an all or nothing bet on some satellite imagery and trends. This led to the usual amount of decision anxiety, and not long after, a few truly unbelievable and breathtaking hours. (Again).