“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.” – R. W. Service
And so goes the opening stanza of one of Robert Service’s most memorable poems, “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”, about 1896-99 Gold Rush days in the Yukon Territory. This image, of a Coronal Aurora (a type of aurora display that manifests as a “converging crown” overhead) was captured on a cold clear evening near Beaver Creek, YT.
Standing, camera and tripod by my side on that cool clear night, with the “stars o’er head dancing heel and toe” I was reminded of Robert Service’s prose, and time I had spent touring through this very countryside a year earlier with five other bicycle tourists on a self-contained tour of the “Alaska Golden Circle”. What a wonderful, memorable and life changing trip it was! And although we did not experience anything quite as dramatic as events described as having occurred on “the marge of Lake Lebarge” we certainly were witness to many natural wonders and wonderful shared experiences!
For more of Robert Service’s poetry please visit: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/robert-w-service