Rory Bory Alice

A few months ago, the family piled into the car and drove for hours straight into the heart of the middle of nowhere, chasing the possibility that we might catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. We didn’t get to see the auroras, but the drive to the lake we were trying at was so white-knuckle terrifying that I couldn’t help but jot some notes down on my phone while I sat in the car with my sleeping daughter.

The road is unpaved and treacherous, steep embankments on either side dropping into impenetrable darkness beyond the glow of the headlights.  The trees glow close to one another in a disregard for what we would consider personal space, arching overhead and enclosing us in a tunnel of wood and inky night.

We are alone, trundling down the one-way road with nothing to reflect the illumination of our tail lights behind us.  But there are signs that others have been here; signs warning of hazards ahead have been partially obscured by graffiti, lending a strain of menace to the already haunting atmosphere of our surroundings.

Traveling in a bubble of light, the world is created from nothing as we approach, and falls back into nonexistence as we pass.  The high beams catch every dip and bump in the road, little scraps of the absolute darkness dwelling in the high contrast shadows they cast.  Up ahead, ghostly lights swim into being.  The reflective tops of road markers demarcating a curve, stuck into the earth at haphazard depths, angles, and intervals like malformed teeth.

At last, we reach the lake.  The depth of the darkness out here is remarkable, the celestial vault above spilling over with heavenly bodies rendered invisible by the ambient glow of civilization.  The air is chilly, and smells of wet and soil.  The silhouettes of mountains and trees form a united mass of obsidian that divides the onyx sky from the stygian waters of the lake.  On the far shore, a single flickering light burns, like the lantern on the prow of Charon’s ferry boat.

Here’s one of the resulting pictures.  Keep in mind that it was taken in the blackest blacking black that ever blacked the black in the black dead of the black night, despite the fact that it looks like early evening.  Dat long exposure time.

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More pics from that night can be found here.