Tag Archives: aurora borealis

Whistle down the heavens

The other day, a young man of Cree heritage told me this:

“When I was a little kid, I was scared of the northern lights. Because if you whistled at them, they would come down and take you away.”

This is old lore from the North, where the woods are thick and the lakes deep. In the north, I’ve noticed, the sky seems closer to the land. The northern lights shimmer with more depth, more urgency. They are not so rare, so transitory as they are down here in the South.

I talked to a few other people from the North that day, and learned that this is a common belief, the sort of warning grown-ups pass on to children: don’t whistle, or the northern lights will come and steal you away.

And where do you think the northern lights would take you, if you dared to call them down?


Driving home, late. Past the pumpkin turning hour. Above, the moon, just past full, sets the snow clad hills to a great blanket of shining white. To my right, shimmering banners of emerald undulate. If it weren’t for the engine and the tires whizzing over broken pavement, if I could stand still beneath them, I imagine I could hear the celestial music they dance to. Ahead, Orion’s belt, undaunted by the luna light. Cassiopeia is on her couch. The Great Bear slumbers above the aurora. Wondrous sights to behold, a magical landscape. It’s hard to believe it’s night, there’s so much light in it.