Friday, January 10, 2014

Polar Vortex, Solar Schmortex

Off with the layers of goose-down and Gore-tex!
Gone is the siege of that mean Polar Vortex!
I'd rather look for a
Borealis aurora
Than cry, "Oh! Jan. nicks my cere-brrr-al cortex!

"Too clever, by 'arf," comments my imaginary critic, Lizzy, the chambermaid from Tooting Bec. That's what she always says about my attempts at wit. (Get it? Cry-o-gen-ics? Freezing the body? "Too clever by 'arf!") She's right, but winter makes wordplay, or attempts at it, necessary. It's an escape hatch.

That's why when waiting in traffic behind a city bus, I become absorbed by the warning sign across the bus's sooty rear: "IF YOU CAN'T SEE MY MIRRORS, I CAN'T SEE YOU." And a flood of other interpretations come to mind, such as

1) "I love you, Dolores, but I don't get why you have these mirrors over every square inch of your apartment." Dolores (tearfully): "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you."
2) "Mirrors? What mirrors, doc? And what do you mean, get out of your office??" Doctor (firmly): "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you."
3) "So, wait, Professor, you're saying when I close my eyes...I disappear?" Prof.: "Exactly! If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you."

Wot? Waste of time? Sez who? I say it's important, in a ritual way, like muttering prayers, or building a bridge to an alternate universe. (You would, says Lizzy.)

Anyway, I was really talking about the Polar Vortex and the Aurora Borealis, which sound like states of being, or jazz clubs, but are in fact atmospheric events that have both paid a visit this week. 

I will miss the Polar Vortex and the weather being in the news and the few days of Neanderthal temperatures and the footage of people flinging saucepans full of just-boiled water into the air and having it come down as clouds of fine snow crystals, and of other people turning bubbles into perfect wabi-sabi ornaments of bio-glass, and of other people using bananas as hammers. I know there were deaths related to the cold, and misery. But for whatever reason, I felt a slight disappointment at the big blue disk on the weather map retreating like an errant circular saw--sorry about that; he's really very friendly--or an archaic place we used to read about as kids, with driving snow and ravening wolves, somewhere in the Russian taiga. We may remember the Polar Vortex in the future with exaggerated terrors, the flip side of the Harmonic Convergence. Remember that?

Aurora Borealis could be the name of a stripper or a best-in-show Persian cat, in addition to being the classier label for the Northern Lights, which I've seen on two remembered occasions, both of them in Canada, one in a long spectral green ribbon from a train window, crossing the prairie of Saskatchewan, the other a here-and-there sky dance of no colors I can remember over English Bay in Vancouver. Down here in the Lower 48, it's a rare thing, usually the result of a solar storm, or a "coronal mass ejection" of hydrogen and helium ions, as I recall from USA Today. And this was the case yesterday, with the news that it takes eight minutes for the ions to get from the sun to us, and might very well result in a visible display of the Aurora Borealis in many parts of the globe.

I didn't rush out to see, as I would certainly have done five or ten years ago. Instead, I sauntered out onto the screened-in back porch and peered through the mesh, in which was caught the moon and a few cold stars, but no aurora. 

If I can't see you, you can't see my mirrors.

I didn't even grant myself the wish in a dream that night. I pointed to a promising patch of night sky. "There," I said to a friend in the dream. "Where?" I peered with him. Nothing. 

If you can't even conjure up a decent light show in your dream, what good is it? If I can't see your spectacles, you can't see mine.

Or maybe I didn't look long enough. I'll try again. 

No comments:

Post a Comment