We turned left onto a secondary road from Rte. 167, straight north of Chibougamau. I had hoped to arrive in daylight, but weather had its way, and it was now early evening. The sky was the deep purple of eggplant skin. With the waning moon, I was able to make out the tarnished silver expanse of the lake, which I knew from Google Maps was to my left.
“Oh,” I gasped, “The northern lights!” The sky was aglow with streaks of pink and yellow, a haze, seemingly emanating from the ground straight ahead.
Andy laughed. “That’s the town, that’s Mistissini!”
Along the lake, I noticed the dark silhouettes of small cabins, windows glowing amber.
“People live here, in these little huts?” I asked Andy.
“Aw, no,” he said. “People build these places to get away from town, you know.”
As we drew closer, the town appeared lit up like a Christmas tree, the streets pure white, and the windows glowing. Andy explained that the town’s people keep their lights on, and at all times, the streets are as bright as noon.
As we turned on to our street, a large Bernese mountain dog stood in the middle of the road, alert to something in the distance, not visible to us.
“Watch out for the dog,” I said.
“Don’t worry, he’ll move.”
He did not move, we had to inch around him. I could almost feel his fur brushing against the car. Still, he did not move.
It was late. I was tired and looked forward to slipping under my down duvet. I hadn’t realized how tense I was from the drive up, the large weaving trucks, and driving through every sort of precipitation.
Rte. 167 from the Saguenay to Chibougamau was closed off to trucks, and we were detained for over an hour as a jack-knifed truck was being cleared. We had not beaten the freezing rain and sleet. I was relieved to see snow plows dispensing salt, and service vehicles never more than 10 minutes apart. My plans of arriving in daylight were not realized, but I am glad to have seen the glow of the town in the dark of the night.
Tomorrow I will start to unpack.