Transient Luminous Events

I have pushed my fingers to write from where I am at for some time. 

My head has been like a snow-globe; a constant swirling of a multitude of things I want to write, but none of the ideas seem to stick.  

I hover over the keyboard. And then I stop. For over six months I have repeated this cycle, only writing short texts to friends and family and allowing these to be the girth of what I can express at the time. 

So I’ll start from



Right now.  

Right here.  

_  _  _ 

I have always been fascinated by the northern lights. It’s a natural phenomenon that is mystifying to me. 

While in Glacier National Park in northern Montana years ago, I woke in the middle of each night in the vast hope I would wake to swirls of energetic color being thrown from the sky. I would track the KP index, midnight, 1:00 am, 2:00 am, watching the numbers rise and fall while biting my bottom lip in hopes the numbers would be high enough for the divine combination of weather events to occur.  And of all the things and places, I have removed from my bucket list this year, only to be replaced by people – and more time with them – seeing the aurora borealis still remains. 

So I’ve been in a COVID stoop this week. The pattern goes like this:   

I stay in my room until all my daughters are asleep, then I come out and take out trash and put dishes in the dishwasher and load the laundry machine.  Basically, I have stayed in my room as much as I can so protect the girls from contracting COVID through me.  It didn’t work, but that’s another story.  

Last tonight as I Cinderella’d around my house at 10:30 pm (guys, I have teens and they aren’t on the “other side of the house” until late!), I walk out to the laundry room and see this flickering, brilliant green burst of light. 

The sky was clear. It was brisk. And the little dipper was right above me; a perfect handle in the sky reminding me I don’t have to have a perfect handle on anything on the ground. 

The green light continued to burst upward from a distance. So I began to sleuth around my neighborhood. Those cheap (sorry – not sorry) knock off Christmas lights that project stars, circles whatever onto your home, well they are still projecting their fabricated magnificence onto my neighbors home not too far away! 

But from my backyard, dense Mesa fog combined with the synthetic magic from across the street, I saw the Aurora borealis.

I stood there, under that Great Handle with the green bursts flickering over and over until my neck began to tire and I was absolutely joy-filled. 

Blissfully joy-filled. 

—- ——-

The last week of teaching before winter break was the usual full-throttle, fumes to the finish line, kind of week. Coordinating a class party, a mug exchange between my students, a PJ party, acknowledging and gifting forward to etc, etc. 

And during this activity-packed week, I decided to teach a unit on weather for our earth science standards. My students analyzed different types of clouds, understood how to predict if a storm is coming and we discussed the natural phenomenons of what makes clouds, how they move and combine to create new weather patterns and what kind of special weather events create the most powerful weather patterns. 

Like stratus clouds absorbing the moisture from its’ surroundings, the students soaked in all the information on clouds and their patterns. 

Like most lessons that take shape in directions you didn’t know they would go but are thankful they did, we jumped from clouds to microbursts, microbursts to tornados, then somehow landed on Transient luminous events. 

It didn’t happen out of steadfast scientific investigation; instead, it happened because my students wanted to know if cows could be picked up in a tornado. 4th grade keeps things down to earth; or at least close to the earth. 

While dipping into the worldwide web during recess in an effort to wow them with a flying cow video upon their return, I found this instead: 

“Transient Luminous Events- rarely observed visually and not well understood. TLE or Transient Luminous Event, involves upper atmospheric lightning. These are short-lived electrical phenomena that occur above thunderstorm clouds.”

Snowflakes from my swirling globe of a busied head began to stick. 

Light above a thunderstorm?  

My God.

I want to know everything about nature’s magnificence in this arena.  

These transient luminous events create electrical manifestations that form very high in the atmosphere, and only above large thunderstorms.  

So I began to track differently for the weeks that followed.  

COVID began to feel out of control again.  A thunderstorm that feels never-ending.  

So, I soaked in the joy that filled my heart when a dear friend called out of the blue, and our reconnection was beautiful.  

Life threw challenges my way I wasn’t sure I could make sense of.    

So, I bathed in bliss while I listened, from the other side of the house of course, all four of my girls sharing about their beauty regimen on a regular Tuesday evening. 

The role of teaching during a pandemic has presented me recently with too many confusions to count.  

So, I marveled in the magic of nature catching a chrysalis that formed right in the edge of our somewhat-forgotten-about lemonade stand; just enough in site to remind me that new life forms where old memories seem distant. 

Grief permeated my heart, forcing me to reconcile and accept it’s lessons.  

So, I pressed my feet into the silky quicksand of the King Tides on a beautiful January day and drank in the grounded feeling  it brought to my entire nervous system.  

How do you move through all of life’s complexities AND a pandemic without trusting that there is absolute, unwavering, powerful light that exists even above the storm clouds? 

We all have to believe in transient luminous events.  Especially now. 

They are short-lived, and barely visible at times.  But they are there.  

So tonight, I couldn’t wait to prance outside and catch my own personal, aurora borealis show again.

And you know what?  With an entire basket of chonis, un-matched socks, and Brandy Melville sweat-pants, I anxiously stepped outside.  But the green magic was gone.  Transient indeed.  

Once back inside my home, with my loyal dog Milo at my feet, and a stomach gratefully full from dinner a friend graciously dropped off, I sat down to collect the last of the fallen snowflakes to finish my writing for the night and just like that, a text from a dear friend was received.  She sent me this beautiful song from the “Hollow Coves” entitled, Blessings.

“There are blessings all around you, open up your eyes.  

Feel the sunlight fall upon you.  

Let it free your mind.  

There are blessings all around you.  

Take a step outside.  

Let your heart shine.  

In a new light.  

See it come alive.”

“Another transient luminous event,” I say to myself.  How incredible.   

Green bursts flicker inside of me.  

I am joy-filled.  

I am above the storm clouds. 

One thought on “Transient Luminous Events

  1. Beautifully written (!) and I hope you are feeling better… Corey also tested positive on the morning of xmas eve. It was difficult to isolate but he stayed in the converted garage except to use the bathroom for 5 days. I think we will all get it so feel good that you got it out of the way 🙂



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