Saturday, August 16, 2008

Green Fireballs

The sun has long ago set on the New Mexico desert, and the night’s blackness has clamped itself onto every stunted tree, every shock of sagebrush, and every sandy rise. Owls, crickets, and coyotes sing unseen from the cooling shadows, and their voices move without form through the airy, inky nothingness.

So, too, does something else—a ball of fire, burning lime green and bright, hurtling silently across the moonless sky for a few long seconds before disappearing. The fireball emits no discernible smoke, but its fiery course seems to trace a metaphorical question mark in the sky, punctuating a question first asked more than a century ago.

The first known accounts of airborne fireballs over New Mexico come from various old-time Spanish villages, and don’t generally describe the phenomena as being green. They do, however, agree that these fireballs were the transportation of witches. According to Jack Kutz’s 1988 Mysteries and Miracles of New Mexico, all a witch had to do was pick up an egg, a gourd, or a pumpkin, and she could “pop like a flashbulb and streak off in a fireball.”

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Green Fireballs - My Strange NM - My Strange New Mexico

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