Shining Lights

faint aurora over town wikimedia commons

Faint aurora showing over the city.

Living in Minnesota means that we get to see many displays of Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Since I live in a big urban area, I usually see them when camping. But the major solar storm this week gave us streaks of green lights dancing right in the heart of all our light pollution. It was enough to entice Andy, my photographer son, to take a drive north with me on the next semi-cloudless night to see if we could catch some images.

Trekking out just after dark, we drove an hour north of the Twin Cities, dressed for a buggy adventure. We almost turned back on the way up as clouds started to cover the north sky. But the moon and stars in the southern direction could be fodder for photos, and I could enjoy hearing the bullfrogs and crickets if the aurora failed to show.

(c) image courtesy of

(c) image courtesy of

We were aiming for the head of a hiking trail in a marshy area. There are a couple of parking spots close to the road, but if you walk down the trail a bit, you trade the view of passing headlights for an open sky to the north. Andy (@Andorius in IG or at has shot some great time-lapse views of stars there in the past.

Turning in at the trail-head, staring at the cloudy sky, we were totally surprised to find literally thousands of fireflies dancing in the grasses, the brush, and floating up towards the sky. They twinkled far brighter than any stars, and completely ignored us. It was delightful to see–they frolicked and danced as far into the marsh as we could see. Some shone very brightly and floated upwards, then darkened and seemed to float back to the grass. Others danced in circles , and some just flickered on and off as they flew. Sheer magic!

Land of the Fire Flies LONG EXPOSURE © Andor

Land of the Fire Flies LONG EXPOSURE © Andor, used with permission

For every firefly there were 10 mosquitoes attacking the bits of uncovered skin that we had allowed. There were wood ticks in the grasses jumping on socks and legs. But the fireflies won–they had to be enjoyed. Andy set off a ways down the path to set up cameras and shoot towards the north, hoping for a break in the clouds. Rich scents of earth and ripening grass seeds were everywhere. The bright moon behind us cast shadows on the marsh.

fireflies iphone shot taken by the curious quilter out car windowI admit to being driven back into the car to watch fireflies. Mosquitoes always seem to find me delectable. It was still great, the fireflies flew within inches of my head through the glass and landed on the windshield. Then they turned their lights on and floated away,quickly replaced by another, and another . . .

For an hour this magical dance continued. I could see my son out moving cameras. I noticed some brightness to the north that seemed to be lightning beyond the horizon, not Northern Lights. Who cared? How often do you get to dance with thousands of fireflies?

When Andy jumped back in the car, the parts of his face that were not covered by beard were pocked with skeeter bites. He was brushing ticks off his pants. Mostly, he was grinning a huge grin. So was I!


(c) used courtesy of

This was a special sight, and we were both glad to have been able to see it. We share a passion for the woods and trees, high places and waterways, rocks and the changing seasons. We are both late-night people, relishing in the sounds of owls in town, the whir of swallows diving, and the bats flying back to the catalpa trees after a night of roaming the yard feasting on mosquitoes. We shared fireflies on a cloudy night, while the aurora probably danced unseen above storm clouds to our north.

Cars had been driving by all the while, I wanted to tell them to slow down and see what lay beyond their headlights. Maybe they knew, but live near and see it often. For me it was a treat. And great reminder of how many ‘worlds’ there are in our world. Our homes, our yards, our neighborhoods and towns, but always there is a “next door” full of unexpected delights. People, cities, oceans, mountains–so many things to fill our senses and our souls.


(c) used courtesy of

I am a Minnesota girl. I love my town, my garden, and lots more. But I am at home in the trees and waterways. A friend once summed it up well in a simple grace:

Rocks, lakes, trees. Amen!

Add fireflies to that list.

Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comsignature© 2015 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comAndy aka Andor, AndoriusAll cited photos © by Andorius of, All rights reserved.Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comUS White House Celebrate rights for gay marriage June 26, 2015Love is Love. Thank you SCOTUS, June 26, 2015.


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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2 Responses to Shining Lights

  1. Sarah S. says:

    What a cool experience, and such great pictures. Andor is a good photographer. I live near Tettegouche and loved that shot the best! Lake Superior ROCKS!

  2. Jacque Traun says:

    What a treat you had watching nature, the beautiful dances and flight of the fire flies. I love them here too, but not too plentiful. Here in Western Wisconsin we tried to see the northern lights too, but to no avail. So glad you got to spend time with your son on such a great adventure!!

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