Monday, September 09, 2019

In search of the Aurora Borealis...

Ocracoke Harbor

This column started as a story of the Aurora Borealis, and I will get to that one…eventually. It really is all about the weather, which has taken a lot of our energy this week as we watched and waited for Dorian. Most of us have friends and family who have been in the pathway, or waiting to be in the pathway. It has been a yoyo of waiting.

For me it has been watching for Adam and Tara in St. Petersburg. There was not a stray shower, but they played the waiting game with canceled fishing charters and plans. Next up the East Coast Abe and Kristin were tucked away with the Charleston Crew. With a week’s worth of school canceled for the entire week, the kids were all having fun playing…the adults appeared to be a bit stir-crazy! They had a few tree limbs down and a bit of fence mending, but all is well.

Last night my friends on Ocracoke sealed the last of the doors and windows as they also waited for Dorian. She did not take mercy on them. On last account (and believe me, I have been watching all the posted photos and videos all morning) Dorian flooded lanes and streets and homes. My friend, Jude, waited patiently in the attic sitting on her grandfather’s rocking chair. This was, indeed, historic flooding.

Most of you know I spent many years traveling back and forth to Ocracoke. It was my summer home and sometimes even my winter home. I know every inch of that island and most of the houses too. I was in a hurricane once on Ocracoke, and I know how difficult the cleanup can be mucking around in big boots watching out for snakes while scrubbing and cleaning. These laborious tasks are common to the good hearty folks of Ocracoke. Although right now, I wish I could be there to help.

Those of us in the Midwest are enjoying the days of early Autumn as we watch the grief unfold in the Bahamas too. It is on these days I feel the guilt of food and a warm bed.
And yet, we go on about our lives.

The weather still dominates what we do, and where we go. Last weekend was no exception. The Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) was predicted to shine in our area. I monitored it carefully. Clear skies, the lowering of the geomagnetic field and the new moon were all in our favor. “Let the party begin,” I happily announced to Carolyn in the hopes she would host the party on her prairie. She did. Four of us joined in the celebration. We met early to watch our favorite film, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  By Midnight, we were on the deck waiting for the lights in the northern sky. Wrapped in blankets and eating our way through trays of brownies we sang into the night sky. We told stories. We waited. We ate more brownies. We waited. We sang more songs. I think you are beginning to get the picture. The Northern Lights never came to visit. Not one shred of them so by 2:30, we decided to call it quits and to go home. It was not a waste of time nor were we feeling a bit daunted. Quite the contrary. We enjoyed a magical evening of each other’s company. “Wait, one more story before we leave,” I announced.

Once while visiting my Uncle Dean in the Adirondacks, he and I decided to take a photo shoot early in the morning on a September day. We woke early, made the coffee, loaded the cameras into the boat and off we went. It was so foggy that we could not see anything. I was so disappointed because the plan was to photograph the beautiful mountain on the other side of the lake. As we quietly rowed into the fog, a kayak emerged with two folks slowly rowing by us. We could not make out anything except their silhouette. My Uncle happily took photos with his cameras. As we returned home, he smiled at me, “It isn’t always what we are looking for that makes us happy.”

I have thought about that often. It is the unexpected…the surprises that catch our breath and keep us moving forward.

I know my families are safe with stories to tell. I know my friends on Ocracoke will find their strength in one another. And I do know that someday I will see the Aurora Borealis.