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alaskan pageant

Lorena Pepper, Ketchikan WBO

All night the sky had been overcast. Around one o-clock, however, the clouds suddenly started vanishing, and by one-thirty the sky was clear and all the stars were shining very brightly. I was making a balloon sounding (we have to add eight hours to get Greenwich time here), when I noticed the sky was illuminated in the East, silhouetting the mountains.

At first I was slightly puzzled. Then I decided the moon was about to rise (we seldom see it up here because it’s nearly always too cloudy), and dismissed it from my mind.

When relief came at two-thirty, I started walking home. The glow was still behind the mountain, and I remember thinking vaguely that it certainly was taking the moon a long time to get up. Then all around the horizon thousands of searchlights seemed to go on far, far away, so that their edges were diffused and melted one with the other. They were a dazzling white, like cirrus clouds – in fact for a moment I thought perhaps they were. Then, I thought, “Oh, it must be the Northern Lights,” and was disappointed because they were not in colors. They often aren’t, this far south.

But my disappointment over the lack of color was short-lived. As I kept watching, one of the beams shooting straight upward would grow much brighter than the others and then fade back to the intensity of the rest, and another would become brighter. All of them seemed to be waving slightly from side to side.

Standing all alone in the quiet, sleeping town, beholding this majestic pageant of light, I seemed to cease to be – and all that existed was that wavering curtain of white. It was as though I were glimpsing heaven.

I have seen the Aurora Borealis.

In: “The BREEZE”, Vol. 3, No. 2. P. 7. March 10, 1946.

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