"SO WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE WE don't see the northern lights like we used to?"
Linda was gazing out the large window from our darkened bedroom as she spoke.
"I dunno; cause they're burnt out I guess," I muttered, my mind nearly mush in blissful sleep.
"Don't be goofy," Linda said. "I really do wonder why we don't see them like we used to. Our bedroom window looks northeast and it's the perfect viewing direction for northern lights. We used to see them all the time from the bedroom window, often dancing across the sky in shades of yellow, green, blue and pink, sometimes even blood red in colour. We don't see them at all anymore."
"It could be we are just going through a low period of sunspot activity," I yawned. I was now on the verge of being fully awake, my mind tweaked by my wife's inquiring mind. "I read somewhere that the aurora borealis are always most active during periods of high sunspot activity."
"And I heard on the radio we have been going through a period of high sunspot activity and the Northerns are supposed to be brilliant right now. But look, it's a perfectly clear night and no aurora."
I got up from bed and joined Linda at the window of our darkened bedroom. I then slipped on my moccasins and creeped out onto the front deck to get a view from a different angle. There was not the slightest aura of the aurora, just a ridiculous frosted image of a steaming Stanfield-swathed senior citizen dashing through the January cold to try and get back into the house before something suffered frostbite.
"Really dear, you ought to wear clothes when you go out into public, especially in January in the Cariboo," Linda chuckled. She was comfortably in bed now.
Shivering, I bounded back into bed, wrestled some covers from the resident Labrador and tried to stick my freezing feet onto the back of my wife to test her Norwegian resolve. The question of the disappearance of the mystical missing aurora was left unresolved.
As usual with most of our unresolved questions, this one got answered a few days later on the radio, which is the one media form of any kind allowed into our rural home. On a CBC radio story on the aurora borealis the expert being interviewed made the point that we were indeed in a period of high aurora activity but that to see them one needed to be in almost total darkness. He also said that once our eyes had been infected by artificial light it took them almost 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness in order to see the soft glow...