Sunday, November 25, 2007

Seeing is believing...or is it?

In my life, I have seen a lot of really cool things. Anytime I want, I can close my eyes and see each one of them as they happened...they were that memorable.

Take the day I was sitting on the edge of a cliff near Thule AB, Greenland with several friends. The view of the ice over Baffin Bay with Saunders Island in the distance was nice enough. But then someone pointed out a small, dark, moving dot on the ice to the south. All of us sat there, keeping an eye on the dot as it got larger and larger. It wasn't long before we realized we were watching an Inuit Eskimo on his dog sled heading home after a hunt. We watched him pass by in total silence. When he then became a small, dark, moving dot on the ice to the north, we left. No one said a word. It was an amazing sight.

Months later, I was down near the docks at Thule when a sound from North Star Bay (the small bay Thule was near) drew my attention. I looked up and at that moment, watched an iceberg roll over in the water. I continued to watch as waves of water moved out from around the berg and washed onto a nearby shore. Between the sound the rolling iceberg, it was an amazing sight.

A couple of years earlier, I was at Fairchild AFB, Washington. It was the day of the annual air show at the base, May 18, 1980. But I never saw the air show. No one did. That morning, Mt. St. Helens, a volcano 300 miles west of where I was, erupted. By the time I got to the show, there was a massive, black cloud of ash on the western horizon growing larger and larger. By 2 pm that formerly beautiful Saturday, it was pitch black outside. I watched it get darker and darker and watched as the sun turned blue in color. I watched as lightning in the colors of pink, green, orange, red and other colors, streaked through the dark sky. And I watched as gray flakes of ash fell around me. In the end, five inches of ash lay on the ground. It was an amazing sight.

Two years before that, I was stationed at Aviano AB, Italy. The base was located at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains, part of the Italian Alps. It was a great place to be stationed. One evening, after I had finished working on the base newspaper (my job was editor of the paper), I was returning from Pordenone, where the paper was printed, when I noticed a thunderstorm forming about midway up the mountains. After I had arrived at a bar I frequented, I went in and found my friends sitting in a booth near the door. I took a seat with them which had a good view out the window of the storm in the mountains. Now, if you know anything about me, you know I love a good storm. So I sat there and watched as lightning strikes flashed, and listened as the thunder echoed through the area. Then I saw something I had never seen before. I saw ball lightning. It wasn't little eight inch balls of glowing plasma or anything like that. It was lightning rolled into a ball. And it wasn't just was three balls. They slowly fell from the sky looking like glowing spaghetti rolled into a loose ball. When the three objects landed, they bounced once or twice then sat on the ground. Because they landed almost on top of a nearby car, I could estimate their sizes. Two were maybe four feet in diameter, possibly three, and the third was twice their size. I was frozen to what I was seeing out the window. For maybe 10 seconds, the three balls sat on the ground, sparkling. I don't know any other way to describe it, but they crackled and sparkled, and suddenly, they exploded. The lights in the bar dimmed, the sound of massive thunder echoed through the land and the balls of lightning were gone. It was an amazing sight.

In October 1973, I was nearing the end of my first term of service in the US Air Force and was stationed at Kincheloe AFB, in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The base was situated in the middle of the northern woods not far from Interstate 75. On a particularly, windy day, I was outside with some friends. We were trying to toss a football around, when a sound was heard in the trees. At first, no one knew what the sound was. But our confusion was short-lived as suddenly, millions of brown, dry leaves, being pushed by the wind, came out of the trees and covered the open area we were standing in. The leaves were 12-18 inches deep and moving as fast as the wind, maybe 25 mph. The leaves flowed all around us and continued for a good 10 minutes. When I would look down at my feet, I would get dizzy looking at the movement of the leaves. I squatted down and put my hands in the path of the oncoming leaves and they would flow up my arms and over my shoulders and continue their journey to the other side of the open area. One of my friends said it looked like I was a lump of leaves in the middle of an ocean of leaves. And as quickly as the leaves arrived, they were gone, back into the trees on the other side. A look around the area we were in showed not a leaf to be seen. It was one of the most amazing sights I had ever experienced.

These are but a few of the wonders I have seen. I have been through earthquakes which did strange things, I was less than 10 miles away from one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions of the 20th Century, I have watched some of the most amazing meteor showers ever seen and I have seen animals do some of the strangest things.

Most of what I have seen is hard to believe. But they happened and they happened to me.

I am just soooo glad I was in the right place, at the right time, to see all the amazing things I have seen.

1 comment:

Misty Dawn said...

Just dropping in to tell you I gave you an award :-)