A: When they start you'll see just a flicker in the sky, usually green. The best way to describe them is by comparing them to flames - which you can see but which flicker and more around. Think of a log on fire in a fireplace: You're not really sure where the flames come from or if there's a pattern to them. You'll see a couple licks, then look again and see four or five. Sometimes you'll have a small show that covers 20 percent of the sky; sometimes 50 or 60 percent. They'll suddenly disappear… and come back again.

Q: When the northern lights are going full-tilt, do they light the sky from horizon to horizon?

A: When they start you'll see just a flicker in the sky, usually green. The best way to describe them is by comparing them to flames - which you can see but which flicker and more around. Think of a log on fire in a fireplace: You're not really sure where the flames come from or if there's a pattern to them. You'll see a couple licks, then look again and see four or five. Sometimes you'll have a small show that covers 20 percent of the sky; sometimes 50 or 60 percent. They'll suddenly disappear… and come back again.

Q: Do the animals out in the wild notice the lights?

A: Yes. We've seen caribou out there watching.

Q: Are there native people out where the lodge is?

A: In the area, yes. They believe the northern lights are a very powerful spiritual part of their lives. Curiously, so do the Japanese, who believe a child conceived under the lights will be blessed. There are northern lights tours from Japan. They're out under their blankets, wearing booties, under the lights.

They don't do that at Blachford, but they do that at Yellowknife.

Q: Outdoors?

A: You hear amusing rumors about people renting cars. We don't head out with flashlights. We don't speak Japanese, anyway.

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Know someone who lives in an interesting city or country who would like to give us the inside line on visiting there? Email, in English, jbordsen@charlotteobserver.com.