Friday, February 28, 2014

A Close Encounter of the Natural Kind

Tryggvi Már Gunnarsson – Iceland
You must click on this image
to enjoy it in all its glory!
The sun had belted out a couple solar flares and sent a couple of large CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) towards the Earth, and this resulted in a fairly strong G6 geomagnetic storm—all that means: we had some pretty good auroras last night that were visible as far south as Maine. With conditions like that there is a chance that something could slip a little further south and we could see an aurora down here in Massachusetts. I am ever the optimist on this point. Every once in a while, we get lucky down here…
As one would expect, whenever there is a possibility of seeing an aurora in these parts, the weather does not cooperate. At the height of the G6, we were clouded over and had a snow squall moving through. Dejected, I turned and headed inside and gave up on the possibility of seeing the northern lights.
Just around midnight, I glanced out the window and noticed I could see stars. With a clear sky, there could be just a chance of catching a glimpse of electric fire dancing over the northern horizon. So, I popped on my boots and scooted out the back door.
There I was! Out in the cold winter air (1°F/-17.2°C) under the crystalline sky filled with stars, wearing nothing by my boots and underwear. The chill breeze (wind chill -9°F/-22.8°C) rustling through my hair.
My tracks are center-right, the rest are the coyote's.
(In case you couldn't tell the difference.)
Face-to-face with a coyote.
Yes. Right there. Not more than ten feet away, was a coyote.
We made eye contact for a moment or two. Maybe three. Then the coyote lowered its head and trotted away. It did take a pause by the swimming pool, gazing back to size me up.
Overwhelmed by my manly visage, radiating masculine confidence and power as I stood there in my undies and boots, the coyote decided discretion was the better part of valor. It quietly turned and made for the woods. (There will be no mention of Hello Kitty boxers nor the hyena-like laughter emanating from the trees behind my house for ninety minutes…)
Thus, we are reminded of the glory and beauty of nature. That we can always see something amazing in our own backyards. And Ex-Lax ain't got nuthin' on staring down a large carnivore in your underwear at midnight.

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