>counting on a light show


Yesterday some people who know Two Ten but do not know me jumped in their pickup and headed north, trying to get at least as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming by nightfall. Our sun woke up the day before, experiencing some massive eruptions. Said eruptions combined with earth’s magnetic field can result in spectacular northern lights.  I happened to announce this on my Facebook page after reading about it from a man who doesn’t know me but does know the same monk I know who also shared this on his Facebook page. One prediction,  five human links, one pickup racing north, one sky above us.  I don’t know if these folks got to see the light show, but I envy their willingness to give it a try.
“Astronaut Soichi Noguchi snapped this picture of auroras over North America from the International Space Station.  Lake Michigan is the dark area outlined by lights. Chicago, Illinois is represented by the bright concentration of lights adjoining the lake.” Click here for more.
I thought about these northbound folks as I was driving south of town to help my sister bring in her sheep for the night. If I planned things right, I could be heading back home just as the sky might light up. I would take my time.  We lingered over our smothered burrito dinner, spent time taking photos and gathering eggs and various other whatnots. I had been here before to bring in the sheep and knew we’d be spending quite a bit of time along the creek making sure no stray lamb was left behind, but turns out I was wrong. Mary has a sheep counter now. She clicks the counter once for each sheep that crosses the bridge to safer pastures near the barn. If the number is right, we don’t have to look for strays.
Before the sheep reached the bridge, I asked how many sheep she has. She wouldn’t say. I asked why. She said because if I know ahead of time there are 107 sheep, then it will turn out I will count 107 sheep. It’s best that I don’t know.
Hmmfh. I teased about not trusting an older sister. Surely, I could surely be counted on for an honest count. Surely.  But turns out we have so  much history between us it didn’t bother her to not tell me how many sheep needed to cross the bridge. When the sheep finally crossed the bridge, I took photos and didn’t count. My mind was on lingering. The longer I stayed away from town, the darker it would be when I drove home. The northern lights would be waiting.

The sheep crossed and we threw sticks in the creek for the two dogs. After enough sticks were retreived, we gathered up Gus, Mary’s latest horse. Gus was no longer camera shy and allowed me to take his photo (which would appear here right now except I got so caught up in lingering I forgot my laptop at my sister’s farm last night.) I remembered a friend’s son who wanted a photo from inside the chicken coop (again, no photo). The sun setting on the red boxcars was cause for more photos. (see repeated No Photo Excuse.) Homemade chocolate cream pie on the back porch was yet another cause to linger. (No photos were taken of said pie. The photographer, by then, had sticky fingers.)
I took my time driving back to town, due north from the sheep farm. I gave the  northern lights every chance to appear. I had my camera ready. I wanted to reach home, aglow from the aurora  borealis experience. But turns out it didn’t happen. A few times I was one gasp away from being sure I was witnessing the light show, but what I saw each time my pickup crested a new hill was the glow from the lights of my city.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

3 responses to “>counting on a light show

  1. >It's a wonderful account of an "almost" celestial light show. I remember waiting for meteor showers, some amazing, and some with little to show for the effort, but just being aware was a connection to the night sky and the universe. Being somewhere wild to count the sheep coming back from pasture sounds amazing, too!

  2. >hi annie,it's neat to read your words. yes, just being aware of a connection makes a person so much more open and tuned. good to hear you like the sheep stories. my sister is so sure she and her husband are the only ones who thrive on such a life. i tell her otherwise over and over again. this last time out i didn't have a hoe with me (for the snakes) and when i commented on it later she said, well really sherry it was getting dark enough that our concerns were more about bobcats and coyotes- what good would a hoe do? (she is such a tease!)

  3. >Thanks for adding to the story! You made me laugh!

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