Northern (high)lights

151008 Skaw Aurora FBI was asked today what originally brought me to Shetland. The easy answer to that, and one that answers most of the question, is of course the wildlife – I wanted to live somewhere genuinely special in that respect, and at no point has Shetland disappointed. It’s far from all of the answer though – there are myriad aspects of living in Shetland that I absolutely love, far too many to capture in one simple, straightforward sentiment. It’s been a fabulous home to me.

Tonight is one of those really special autumn nights – there’s not a cloud in the sky, and the stars are achingly bright overhead. Tipped off by a text from a friend, I’ve been keeping an eye on the northerly horizon, and earlier this evening a pale greyish green arc began to form in the sky – the aurora was back.

I took my camera down to the beach and scrambled over the slippery rocks to a notch in a boulder where I could wedge myself out of the constantly shifting small waves and steady the camera on a tripod as low to the water as I dared. I was hoping the aurora would be bright enough to reflect on the wet rocks just above the waterline… For some five minutes it flared up, and shot some good shafts of light high into the night sky. These pillars shimmered and staggered before subsiding back into a dwindling glimmer above the horizon.

Not the brightest or the biggest, sky-filling display I’ve seen here. But not bad for early October. How many people can say they watched the aurora borealis light up a starry sky tonight on a beach, while migrating Redwings streamed overhead calling unseen in the darkness? I might find it hard to articulate precisely why I am here – but I know it’s home, and I love it.

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