I've been on a bit of a Dawson's Creek kick lately. I'm not entirely sure why. At first, I thought it was maybe because I've been considering writing a YA novel, but then I realized that a) my YA idea only goes as far as the first page because my voice has never been right for YA and b) while Dawson's Creek is all full of the melodrama of youth, it's not the most accurate portrayal of young people. Unless you were me, in which case, it actually was frighteningly like my high school years; lots and lots and LOTS of talk and very little actual action.
Why is this important? Well, a few nights ago, I watched the episode where Joey has a date with AJ, the college guy, and they go to watch the aurora borealis. That got me to thinking. It's been close to two years since I've seen the northern lights, and I miss that magical display.
It's funny, because when I lived in Canada, I mostly took them for granted. On almost any clear winter's night, you could see them from my parents' back yard. It was really awesome to sit outside in the hot tub, surrounded by snow and ice, the steam rising up around you, and look up to see the lights dancing. I know, it sounds cheesy to say the lights were dancing, but that's really what it looked like. If you've never seen the northern lights, you're missing out. I'd direct you to a YouTube video, but that really doesn't capture the experience.
The northern lights don't make much of an appearance in the southern US.
And then I started thinking some more. I may have given up the northern lights, but I found some other magic down here. Up until I moved here, I had never seen real fog. I'd seen fog from a fog machine, with that special, sickly sweet cotton-candy smell, but never real, honest-to-goodness, made-by-nature fog. Here, though, there's a lot of fog, especially on these hot summer nights, after a good rainstorm. The fog just lays on the roads, sometimes only an inch deep, sometimes a couple of feet deep. It swirls around, chasing the cars as they drive through. It's a little bit of magic.
Another new experience has been lightning bugs. I had never seen lightning bugs before. I remember the first time I walked outside on a summer night and saw a little green light over by the trees. I blinked a few times, sure that I just had something in my eye. Then I saw another. And another. And then there were a dozen little green lights, flickering on and off, floating around the trees. I just stood there and stared for a few minutes, mesmerized. I don't remember where I was supposed to go that night, but I do remember that I was late. Even now, four years later, I can still lose track of time staring at lightning bugs.
So maybe that's the trade-off. I gave up the lights and motion of the northern lights, but I got dancing fog and lightning bugs to make up for it.