Look up. I was ever told this by teachers when I was a wee boy, because I was always looking doon at my feet. It’s a shy person’s thing.
The definition of an extrovert in famously shy Finland is a person who looks at someone else’s feet. But I look up a lot now … at the sky.
Recently, I’ve altered my walking schedule so as not to have to stoat aboot so much on my gammy knee, at least until it heals in 2024. I’ve developed the habit of stravaiging briefly along a short stretch of coastline, at least when the tides aren’t too far in.
When the tide is right in, coming as far as the roots of a gnarly old tree, I just stand aboot on the narrow strip of rocks, or in the nearby wood, and look at stuff.
And the thing I like looking at best is the sky. I remember, as a bairn, I loved lying doon on the grass and looking up at the sky, at least when it was blue. On these shoreline walks today, the sky is usually darkening and the sun setting, because I hie myself thither when the day’s scribbling is done.
And, oh, what sights there are to behold! On a good day-evening, oot west above the castle ruins and the tree-line, there’ll be a constant, slow swirling of clouds brightly illuminated by a scarlet sky. The changing shapes are endlessly fascinating. And by endless, I mean until I say: “Right, time to get home for fish finger curry and a dram.”
Yesterday, I had all this plus the added bonus of the Moon peeping out shyly before revealing itself in all its glory further north above the mountains on the opposite shoreline.
When I got home, I found another place to look that was better than my feet: the computer screen! For, here, I found an “aurora borealis live” channel on yon YouTube.
The pictures are from yonder Finnish Lapland and I was lucky on my first look because the sky was all swirly greens. I’d seen these gyrating greens a good few times before, in the flesh, as it were. They don’t always swirl. Sometimes, they’re like shimmering green curtains or thin vertical strips that disappear then reappear. It’s magic!
I think I probably told you before about the frosty November night when, on a whim before turning in for bed, I stepped outside my little wooden house in the back of beyond way up north of north … and found that the whole sky was a riot of colour. And it was dancing!
It was an amazing sight, and the most awesome – in the true sense of the word – experience. There were many more colours than green, and they swished hither and yon along the voe. I felt tiny and a little cowed by this unleashed power of the cosmos.
Online, you find explanations involving clashing particles and suchlike dreariness, but I prefer references to “Odin’s disco” and “the merry dancers”.
Today, far from the city, sometimes I still see wonderful starry nights. Beyond the Plough and Orion’s Belt, I don’t know their names and never will. As long as they’re twinkling I don’t care, for they keep me looking where I was always tellt to look: up!
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