Norway – The Night Lights

Patience is not my virtue. After fifty-one years I’ve gotten to know my flaws well. It is very clearly written on my life’s report card, “Patience: Needs Improvement.” Not even an ” S” for satisfactory. I’d be dragging my feet home to show my parents that report.

I can’t play chess. You’re supposed to think several moves ahead. I’m going to move my horse now because I feel like it, who really cares if it would be better to move it later because of what the opponent is thinking of doing ten moves down the line. Actually, Kevin says I make chess interesting. He never knows what I’m going to do next, but he manages to cream me everytime.

I can make a quilt on the sewing machine, but if you want a hand sewn one don’t count on me finishing it in this lifetime. Make that anything that involves intricate detailed work, I am going to lose interest rather quickly. The word “computer” doesn’t make it into my ear canal, because I know that is going to be followed with a bunch of jargon that involves pressing this and doing that’s. The oompah band starts playing about then.

But if you need a quick answer to a problem, or just someone to play Boggle or Sudoku with, I get straight A’s in that category. Frustrated because you can’t find a place on the map, let me point it out for you. Need to count money or make change and there’s a long line behind you, I’ll have you out of there in a flash. There’s an emergency and you need to keep calm and solve it pronto, gotcha covered. Thinking outside the box? What box? What is a box anyways?

Unfortunately, searching for the Northern Lights, is of the first type of thinking. You sit around in the cold, dark night air waiting, waiting, waiting. Ummm, so I wait and if the conditions are just right, maybe I’ll get to see the Northern Lights? You might see the problem already.

Day 1: Wait. Nothing. How long do I need to wait? Seems like hours, but more likely minutes. Waves threaten to upheave  stomach contents. Go to bed.

Day 2: Wait. Walk around deck 5 while waiting. How many times should I walk around the ship? Check out Deck 7. Go to bed.

Day 3: Cloudy night. Go to bed. Wake up at 3 am. Nothing going on outside. Go back to bed.

Day 4: It’s cold outside. I’m tired. Missed dinner again. Just go to bed, there will be an announcement if lights are spotted.

Day 5: Back to waiting. Stand on the prow of the boat. Wind blows. See some whisp of clouds, wonder if they could be what we’re looking for. Decide not. Get undressed. Go to bed. Captain announces there is some Northern Lights action where we just were.¬† By the time we are dressed again and out the door, it’s over.

Day 6 (last night on ship): Sign up for night snowmobiling, might keep me awake. Gale winds cancel snowmobiling, unhappy campers. Join the other passengers walking around the ship like drunk penguins. Go outside. The wind is blowing. Forget the hat, it’ll just blow off. Wait a bit. Go to bed…

“Wonderful good evening ladies and gentlemen. We are now experiencing Northern Lights…”

We’ve improved our dressing time and are out the door in a flash. Bracing ourselves against the wind, we weave our way to a good spotting area trying not to trip on other excited bundled travelers attempting to see the sky, walk, hold onto their cameras and not fall overboard at the same time.

Please note that we are now experiencing gale force winds. I lick the salt water from my lips as I try to keep my hair out of my eyes. Wave after choppy wave, we grab a hold of anything that will keep us from spilling over. Like a dog with her ears flapping out the open car window, I am so happy. No longer a pampered cruise tourist, I am now imagining myself as a sailor battling the elements. Ah, my merchant marine grandfather would’ve loved this.

Above us the sky is putting on a show. At first just whisps of clouds, guess I should have waited a little longer on Day 5, the “clouds” start to elongate and brighten. Knuckles tighten as we grasp the railing. The lights spread and turn shades of green and blue. It’s beautiful. Like a fire in the sky. We try to not lose our cameras to the sea gods and take a few pictures. But we’re fighting the wind, waves, water and cheap equipment. We got wonderful shots of nothing. We put the cameras back in our pockets and enjoy.

We enjoy. We get cold. Then, like the spoiled tourists that we are, we go inside and go to bed. As soon as we lay down our heads the speaker crackles. It has become too dangerous out on deck. Everyone is encouraged to come inside. We are reassured that the ship can handle much more treacherous waters. We close our eyes and go to sleep.

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