Tuesday, September 10, 2002

What's That, Up in the Sky?

Last Saturday, Stacey and I were maxing out in front of the TV watching Batman for the 300th time, because it happened to be on TV. We had spent the day baking in the sun at a colossal yard sale organized by the city, and it was *crawling* in people. Calling it a "zoo" would be an understatement; there were literally thousands of people there. I've never been very good at these things....somehow, I just can't bring myself to bodily fling people away from vendor's tables to get my sweaty little hands on a ten cent necklace or pair of rusty old figure skates. Go figure. Anyway, we got a few odds and ends that caught our eyes and ended up with a mild case of heat exhaustion that pole-axed our energy levels for the rest of the day. But, I digress.

We were watching Batman, reveling in Jack Nicholson's deliciously maniacal performance as the Joker, when we were startled by someone hammering on our front door. After peeling ourselves off the ceiling and rubbing the pointy-plaster marks off our cheeks, we answered the door, and found our ten-year-old neighbour, Jessica, looking terrified.

"What's wrong?!" Stacey asked her.

"HURRYHURRYCOMEQUICKYOUWON'TBELIEVEWHAT'SHAPPENING!!!" she shrieked, and bolted off into the darkness, into the central court in front of our townhouse.

Stacey, thinking that there's a fire or little Timmy's trapped in the well, bolts after her. Me, I decide to hang back and turn the TV off before following. As I approach the door, Stacey's head reappears from behind it. "Hurry! HURRY!! You have to see this, baby!" Now I'm all freaked out. I come tripping out the front door with one sandal on my foot and the other in my hand, nearly falling flat on my face. I fumble with my keys to lock the door, only to give up and risk leaving it unlocked.

At this point, I'm expecting something extraterrestrial. We're talking a big mother flying saucer or something. I'm already regretting not sending away for my real, working, 100% guaranteed Ray Gun in my He-Man comic book all those years ago. All that I really have that qualifies as planetary defence weapons are a pair of suspiciously real-looking cap guns and an aluminum baseball bat....hardly an impressive arsenal against an army of lizard-men with acid for blood.

I actually wasn't far off. It was extraterrestrial.

"Look up," Stacey said.

Above us was the most beautiful thing....long strands of wispy, coloured, translucent light stretching across the sky. They surrounded the court like a dome, far up above, higher than any cloud I'd ever seen at night. The bands shimmered and moved seductively, with faint highlights in red and green and purple.

"It's the Northern Lights," she said. "I've seen them before and they were brighter, but they're so cool."

Stacey may have been a little more nonchalant about it than I was, but we spent the next half hour or so with our neighbours, with our heads cocked back, mouths agape, and our bodies pressed together, marveling at the light show up above. And it was amazing. Far better than any firework display, and my tax money doesn't pay for it. We stayed out there until the last few traces of light had vanished from the sky, talking with neighbours, enjoying the cool evening air, indulging in a few cigarettes and playing a brief, impromptu game of "I've got your hat, gotta chase me for it".

Man, I love Fall.


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