Friday Night – Bonfire

Its a simple concept: get a few friends, find a piece of land where there are no fire bans, gather up kindling and wood. Then neatly stack your supplies near your fire pit location. Next begin to build a tepee like structure from your kindling and wood supplies. Stuff the inner section with a bit of fire starter like paper, cardboard or beer boxes. Once the tepee is built grab a lighter and start lighting the inner section. Give it a couple quick breaths and Viola! You have yourself a  backyard bonfire. Of course with every backyard bonfire you will have to keep an eye on it and toss in a log from time to time. Or adjust the logs currently in the middle of the fire to keep everything happily ablaze.

After an hour of prepping the pop-up tent (just in case it rained) we set out to build the fire, drank a beer and chatted away with one another until the twilight darkened into night. Less than 25-minutes after the last of the day light fell beyond the horizon line we were engulfed by the dimly lite moon above as the stars began to appear one by one. While under the tent helping setup the outdoor movie screen, Sara quickly belted out in her loud swimming pool voice that we should all look up into the sky! Bouncing out from beneath the tent and directly above us the Northern Lights, began to form.

Our conversations changed nearly instantaneously from rock songs and movie title choices to the brilliant twinkle of dancing green forms across the sky. The green stretched in long silhouettes from the northern most horizon to directly below the small dipper constellation overhead. While discussing this amazing natural phenomenon Steve announced with a bit of a chuckle, “I believe I should have supplied radiation suites tonight as we may all soon be feeling the side effects of radiation.” And with his laughter still lingering in the air the lights slowly faded away except for a green haze along the northern horizon line.

Our bonfire bounced in front of us all pulling us back to our original plans of a bonfire and an outdoor movie. Our conversations switched back to general humorous events, politics and travel. Within the next 20-minutes the sky lite up once again. Only this time offering us a bit of red, a touch of yellow and a brighter green than before. Amazed by the beauty of this naturally forming light I wandered out into the darkness to watch this mysterious light show continue to unfold.

Breathtaking and spectacular my eyes scanned across the sky taking in this magical natural event. Shortly I was chased back towards the bonfire as the mosquitos were out in force. But this did not stop me from glancing up into the depths of night hoping and desiring for another showing of lights. Nor did I care what colours this phenomenon chose to share as long as it came out dancing, twisting and spiralling beneath the stars and across the dark skies.

Shortly after the third set of Northern Lights, Grant started up our feature movie for the night: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Having not yet seen this movie I was not sure I was interested but slowly its story began to unfold and I found myself slowly becoming intrigued by the plot. It must have been another twenty-minutes or so when I looked up into the night sky as the green haze slowly began to take shape. At this point I wondered why I didn’t think to bring a camera and tripod with me. Because had I done such a thing, I would have surely been able to capture this incredible light show above us.

Soon the lights dimmed out and fell north into the haze on the horizon leaving us stunned by its extended appearance. Sitting in the darkness watching the movie, I tried to understand how I would describe this indescribable experience? And just how the Northern Lights truly made me feel.

I now know… what I had seen over the winter months is nothing like the light show I experienced last night. But what I do know is if you ever have the chance to get farther north or even south you should try to catch a glimpse of this truly spectacular natural phenomenon called The Northern Lights. 


Northern Lights: Yukon Territory, Canada


Photograph by Robinson Crusoe (c) 2011

Northern Lights:  Troms, Norway


Photograph by Sigmund Pettersen (c) 2006

Northern Lights: Kulusuk, Greenland


Photograph by Nick Russel (c) 2005


Northern Lights: Bear Lake, Alaska 


Photograph by SRA Joshua Strang (c) 2005