My thoughts are fleeting and flittering at the best of times, but unsurprisingly the northern lights have been in the forefront of my mind.
Grim Up North is a trope found in many of my favorite works. A Song of Ice and Fire with with its voluminous and cold caverns and the dark mysteries they hold; FFVII’s Northern Crater, which contains cruel and frosted depths hiding ancient horror; Frozen’s North Mountain where Elsa runs to cast off the shackles of concealment. The north is a very bleak and unforgiving place (for those of use who reside in the top hemisphere. I suppose it would be the opposite for you who dwell below).
When I arrived at work today, the title “The Shadow in the North” was stuck in my head. This happens sometimes, a title or phrase will just bounce around in my skull or no reason I can discern. These words happen to refer to the second book in Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart Mystery Series.
You might remember Mr. Pullman from my Preamble/Prelude where I mentioned his, er, His Dark Materials Series. Gah, I hate when there’s awkwardness at the beginning of a title. I have the same problem with A Song of Ice and Fire. You have to often say THE A Song of Ice and Fire so you have two determiners and it just looks messy, but I digress. The first book of HDM was entitled Northern Lights, and my god are the covers beautiful.
They’re all from the UK Amazon of course, because for some reason every other country gets the good covers AND the better titles. I guess “The Golden Compass” is more descriptive since the story does focus around a golden compass-like object, the alethiometer, whereas the title Northern Lights is a vague sort of location.
So in the midst of my exercise class my endorphin soaked brain could only think about the glory of the northern lights, and I realized to my great shame, that I didn’t know how or why they occurred, and as I am not one to dwell in ignorance, I have turned to the Google for guidance.
Wow…so in my internet travels this is what I’ve found and this is what I’ve concluded. The northern lights or aurora borealis are (very simply) caused by solar radiation interacting with earth’s magnetic field,
the latter or which serves to deflect most of the solar wind, whose charged particles would otherwise strip away the ozone layer that protects us from harmful UV radiation. So…the northern lights are a sign of the planet’s protection. I have to file this under “shit I did not know before I started writing my fanfiction, but am utterly baffled to discover as it makes the title even more relevant.” I’m dumbfounded and humbled. The gorgeous display that many would sell our sight to see once is actually proof of protection. “The sky’s awake…” so we’re alive. I will refrain from my typical rant about horrible human ingratitude and the deplorable way we treat this world and all its inhabitants, and just say this one human is very grateful and delighted to have discovered something a bit more profound in her simple words.