The sky had to be clear.
The moon had to move.
The cold had to release its grip on the night enough for our snowsuits to be a match.
The lake had to be at the bottom of the wooded hill, opening up the sky.
The sun had to emit its solar magnetic wind.
The Earth had to allow this polar entry point.
The camera had to stand on something steady.
The feet had to stand still, regardless of desires to bounce with glee.
I had to be employed in this uncommonly fortunate job, with a school that chose this trip at this time in this country.
Every lucky day prior that contributed to this healthy body and mind made this viewing possible.
Now, I have checked off "See the Northern Lights" from my list of desired experiences that will supposedly make my passing less tragic.
It looked like nothing at first, just a slightly cloudy sky, cold and speckled with stars that could still be seen along with a full moon's light. I set up the tripod firmly on the snowy pier and adjusted the focus on the tree line.
The camera slowly processed what it captured in RAW, almost as though it needed a second to accept what it saw: green...a faint, green glow in the shape of a rainbow diffused into the surrounding cold blue.
Guys! They're here!
The fact that it wasn't visible to the naked eye was instantly overshadowed by the thrill of their presence. We were in sight of solar waves that traveled a distance beyond comprehension. I snapped more and turned the camera to cover the entire sky, visibly sifting for gold out of an already gorgeous landscape.
Then, a line appeared. Adam was insistent.
Undoubtedly, it was another green marvel, like a grain of salt on wet dye and silk. It came and went, fade in, fade out. Our squeals echoed throughout the valley. More warm bodies materialized at the edge of camp, attracted by the elusive lights that were extracting our childlike wonder.
Each streak garnered the same reaction. The crowd grew, feet still with fingers pointing to the sky. And then a streak became a band, a dim bow across the sky above that slowly grew in intensity. We were babies bouncing under a green headband in the sky.
She traveled, expanded, strengthened, and told her friends of her joys. They joined her, and our hearts were grateful. Streaks became blobs became swirls became signatures became spiral staircases, and then the dance began. It was a magnificent moment in every life present, and this reality was an amplifier of joy. A frozen lake was our platform on which to dance for our joys, a moment of praise for the opportunity that brought us all here at this time.
Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.
The staircase swirled to the north. The snake gained a shadow and danced with it. We projected into the sky animals, souls, and personalities that could feel what we felt, that understood the elation they gave us. But when we stopped to accept the actual reality, that we were under a sky that is always there, a sky that revealed the power of the sun and the scope of the Earth, we were quiet and at peace with our own insignificance.
Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.
The tripod stuck by virtue of the crisp, cold air. The mitten on my left stuck to the metal as the glove on my right rotated the camera with a fluid twist and snap. Hundreds of files are now what I possess to prove the Northern Lights danced above me. That and my words, which you can choose to believe.