This last week the sun experienced spectacular, unprecedented radiation storms. At least we were told they were unprecedented. I'm going to have to take "their" word for it. These radiation storms resulted in stunning displays of northern lights in the northern latitudes. And that reminded me of seeing the northern lights firsthand when I lived in Alaska. And remembering what an awe inspiring experience that was made me remember the seven coolest things I've seen.
Today, as I begin my 44th year on this earth, I'd like to share them with you. This list is not static. I hope that things will get pushed off the list as my mind continues to be blown. But for now, this is my list.
Childbirth - I don't care how many biology lessons I had on mitosis and human reproduction. I could have read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" 20 times and nothing could have prepared me for the sheer surprise of having a whole other person come out of me. Yes, I felt the kicks, saw the ultra sound pictures and understood everything logically. But my first thoughts after hearing my son cry for the first time were of disbelief. I am pretty certain I uttered the word, "really?" several times.
Northern Lights - No photo can do the northern lights justice. That is why I was so delighted and overwhelmed to see them first hand. What the picture doesn't show is how the northern lights move, like a curtain fluttered by a slight breeze. And they make a soft popping noise too--at least that's how I remember them. I never saw red northern lights--only green. But in Alaska, it was understood that when the northern lights came out, you called your neighbors so they could go outside to see, regardless of time of day. Gratefully, I was once on the receiving end of one such call at 2am.
Bald Eagles, Homer, Alaska - I did not take this picture, but easily could have if I'd had a better camera in 1990. This is a beach in Homer, Alaska where a woman fed bald eagles during the winter. There were signs posted that kept people back a certain distance and most everyone respected it. To see this many bald eagles in one place was surreal. (p.s. I've just learned that Jean Keene, the bald eagle lady, died in 2009 and now feeding eagles is prohibited in Homer city limits.)
Humpback Whale, Alaska - We were fishing for halibut and a humpback whale appeared and got closer and closer to our boat. It was so close I could hear the squeak and hiss from his blowhole. I believe it even swam right under the boat.
Beluga Whales, Kenai, Alaska - We were driving over the Kenai River when I noticed the river full of white caps and a bunch of people stopped, and watching. Once I got out, I could plainly see, it wasn't white caps on the river, but beluga whales swimming up river, no doubt following some fish. There must have been 20 or 30 whales that day and I stood there, not believing what I was seeing. Truly spectacular.
M-13 - This made my list because I couldn't find a satisfactory picture of freezing fog. But the more I think about this globular star cluster, I realize how mind blowing it is that I can see something 25,100 light years away. But most incredible, is the feeling I get when I remember Robert showing it to me through a telescope. Then I realize what a wonder it is to be married to such a magnificent man. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me.
Orca Whales, San Juan Island - I was able to see Orcas several times while living on San Juan Island, but my favorite time was the day I went to Deadman Cove with Ethan and Jonah, just to let them play and throw rocks into the sea and do whatever else they could do to work off a little energy. I was sitting on the beach, just thinking of how fun it would be to see Orcas. We'd lived there 5 months and hadn't seen one yet. And then, they just started swimming by, like they heard my wish. There must have been at least 8. Of course this orca sighting comes in a very close second.