Going to Norway

Ole Christian Salomonsen aurora borealis
Photographer Ole Christian Salomonsen took this in Kattfjordeidet, Tromsø, Norway, as a CME (coronal mass ejection) hit Earth.

Norway means to me Roald Dahl and the northern lights. The legend that is Dahl the writer of children’s play and dreams had parents who were from Oslo. And there was where he’d written his autobiographical book, Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984), which i’d devoured as a girl.

Everybody knows the fabled northern lights, even if they’ve never seen it. Somehow the mind knows to conjure magic from the lights we’ve already collected over our lifetimes, whether through experience or through the photographs captured by others.

To me, comfortably sweating a little in the tropics now, it also means a chill–if you’ve ever taken in a breath of ice, so sharp that your body splits, ceases to exist in that instant. Studies of those who freeze to death share the basic adage: cold is an absence. Of heat, movement, time. Taking in a shard of cold, a flash of divine light, you are no longer in your warm cocoon, no longer separated in yourself from vast eternity; in that moment, there a perfect snapshot of your ephemeral dream hangs.

Ole C. Salomonsen took this one. Apparently, from September to April are the when the northern lights occur, when change of seasons charges and solar wind stir a geomagnetic storm, the aurora borealis. I’m not sure if i’ll get to take in those, but in my time there, i hope to see how living is under such skies.


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