Moments To Remember

ALeqM5i9j264vGoPsKoSENiDga2w5q-Vqw Reports of solar flares and spectacular displays of northern lights in Norway and the British Isles this week reminded me of one of the most stunning, most memorable events I have witnessed in my life.  On a starry summer night many many moons ago on the side of a butte overlooking the remote South Dakota prairie, I was surrounded—no, embraced—by northern lights in a full spectrum of color.  The display filled the sky and appeared to touch the earth.  And they danced.  It was shock and awe in the best sense, a burning bush moment.

It was late, and I was driving three other young women from a powwow back to our home for the summer.  A dirt road (which—I discovered a few years ago–is no longer there) took us around a curve on Rattle Snake Butte—see it in the distance?—which is sacred to the Lakota.


The sky was already a spectacular sight.  Stars ran riot, the way they do in that part of the world.  (Oh, do I miss the Dakota skies!  If you’ve never seen the Milky Way—and I just read that most people have not—you must find your way to the Dakotas.)  We rounded the curve, and there were the lights.  We stopped and got out and stood there speechless, the four of us, and bathed ourselves in those lights.  They were that close and all-consuming.  It was Elijah’s chariot.  It was a Close Encounter.  It was orgasmic.

Here’s a link  gorgeous video of this weeks activity that hints at what I saw that night.  But the colors were more..


But more distinct, with those riotous stars as a backdrop.

This is the kind of moment that writers carry with them.  It’s the overwhelming experience “recollected in tranquility” that poets—Wordsworth, for one—talk about.  You pull this kind of experience out time and time again and relive the astonishment.

What astonishing, heart-stopping moment springs to mind for you?  One that sizzled your senses and stayed with you in exquisite detail and maybe changed the way you saw the world in some way? 

Oh, and did you see Stephen Colbert’s 2- part interview with WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE author Maurice Sendak?  It’s one of our favorite books, and it always reminds me of my older son’s summers in children’s theater.  Be sure to watch both parts!


About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in aurora borealis, Kathleen Eagle, memories, northern lights, South Dakota, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Moments To Remember

  1. kylie brant says:

    Spectacular scenes that leave you speechless…but linger long in our memories…great post, Kathy. Some of mine are Cozumel sunsets bleeding into the water; the insanely blue waters of the South Pacific, rimmed with white sand beaches…hmm, sensing a pattern here 😉

    • Sky, sand, sea. Together, nothing short of miraculous. I still remember the first time I saw a HUGE moonrise. I was about 7 or 8–we lived in Idaho–and suddenly a gigantic orange ball appeared on the horizon. Just sitting there at the edge of the world–I thought it was God’s balloon.

  2. michelehauf says:

    I so wish I lived somewhere the Northern Lights were viewable. They must be remarkable. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I read recently that only 1 in 5 people alive in the world today has actually seen the Milky Way. If that’s anywhere near true…

    The sky is everything in the Dakotas, no matter the season or time of day. So powerful, when you’re there for the first time, it’s overwhelming.

  4. C.J. Miller says:

    I live on the east coast in the United States, and about a decade ago, the northern lights were visible from Pennsylvania where I was living at the time. Beautiful!

  5. Kathleen O says:

    I was in Scotland one time and saw the brilliance of the Northern Lights. It was like something I will never forget. We were high up in the Higlands on a clear night and those movements of colour were such that I felt I was watching what heavan is all about.. If I close my eyes I can still see the brilliance of colour.. . I hope my nieces and nephews get to experience this once in their lifetime as I did.. It’s like feeling your first “love at first glance “moment…ahhhh bliss.

  6. laurieg72 says:

    Nature’s beuty that I’ve seen that takes your breath away:

    The Grand Canyon- the immensity, the color of the rock, the quiet
    Niagra Falls- the immensity, the power, the noise
    Key West – sunset
    Lake Michigan – sunrise, when ice builds up along the shoreline, when the fog rises due to the contrast between air and water temperatures

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