I swear, I saw it with my own two eyes..... November 14, 2023 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in hearing your stories of things you've seen that no one else perhaps saw, or that you have no proof of, either good or bad but preferably good.

The other day, I was amazed to see a chipmunk scamper across the busy road, between the wheels of a moving pickup truck, and make it safely to the other side. It made me recall other "wow" moments that no one else noticed, and I thought I'd like to start a conversation so we could share such things. Two of my favorites are:

Driving to work one early morning, and a light snow is covering the ground, and more snow lightly falling. I'm passing a horse farm. Four horses, in a line heading right, are happily trotting on their own, one behind the other. As if on cue, all four did an about-face, and trotted in the other direction. I almost slid off the road, I was so entranced. No humans were present to encourage these beautiful animals - they did this all on their own.

A different time, I had to hit my brakes for an indecisive squirrel in the road. He seemed to freeze in place, and I crept past him. I was worries, so I looked in my rear-view mirror. A black bird flew down out of a tree, and actually PECKED at the squirrel, who finally ran out of the road! I thought it was amazing, because clearly the bird knew what he was doing, and as soon as the squirrel was safely up a tree, he took off.

So, tell me your amazing stories.
posted by annieb to MetaFilter-Related at 8:55 AM (76 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

I'm hesitating posting an AskMe asking about a specific Toronto bookstore in the 90s/early 2000s just because it may have all just been a dream.
posted by avocet at 9:04 AM on November 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

here is a story for which I am not the sole witness but certainly have no proof of it:

back in the late 80s winter, driving out to Point Reyes (CA) to the lighthouse. there is a lot of farmland along there. we passed a farmer driving his tractor slowly along the side of the road...following a cow...who had her half born calf hanging out of her as she just walked along, giving birth, and the farmer patiently following her. it was amazing!
posted by supermedusa at 9:49 AM on November 14, 2023 [7 favorites]

Twenty-plus years ago I was on my break from lifeguarding and decided to use my time to paddle way out past the breakers and just bliss out for a bit. The water was exceptionally clear that day and when I got to my spot, in maybe 12 feet of water, I thought I could see something shiny down in the sand below me, so I put on the goggles that I always kept around my neck (I wore contacts at the time) and dove down to take a look. When I got to the bottom I discovered it was just a piece of abalone shell, nothing special, but as I turned to head back up to the surface a pod of pilot whales swam past me so close that I could almost reach out and touch them. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and when I got back to the beach none of my colleagues had even noticed that the pod had passed by. It's still only the second time I've ever seen a pilot whale and the only time I've ever seen them that close to shore. A perfect moment in time, just for me.
posted by saladin at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2023 [41 favorites]

One time I was out on a boat in the middle of a very large lake in Canada and I saw something big swimming. I thought it may have been a person swimming across but then I noticed it was a deer. It was probably swimming out to one of the big islands. Who knew deer could not only swim, but could also think "hey, I wonder what's on the other side of this lake?"

Another time I was walking along the river trail (a paved trail) in Zion National Park (a park in the American Southwest) and I came upon a monkey! It was being carried by a woman in a wheelchair. It was her helper monkey! I'd never seen that before and now I have a story about seeing a monkey in Zion NP.

Then there was the time I was hiking alone, deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. It was mid-day, I was passing by some areas flooded by beavers and I saw a beaver swimming in the water. This is somewhat rare to see during the day so I stopped to watch. The beaver swam close and came to about four feet from where I was standing. Again, somewhat rare. While I was watching him up close I heard another noise, looked down, and there was a very large snake crawling across the trail just a couple feet from me. Here I am, alone, and suddenly I'm Dr. Freaking Dolittle. I didn't know which one to watch, the beaver or the snake. It was one of those magical moments that you can only really get when hiking alone.
posted by bondcliff at 10:49 AM on November 14, 2023 [8 favorites]

While taking a walk, I saw a squirrel get a running start and jump over a duck.
posted by michaelh at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2023 [29 favorites]

I've seen a UFO when I was 11 years old. It was in the daytime, a bright sunny day. I was standing by a pretty high building (14 floors or so) and it looked to me like the object I saw overhead was at least as high above the roof as the roof was above ground level. The object was white and oval (not elliptical or bombed shaped, and no pointy ends) and in a horizontal position, and seemed to be moving across the sky over a city at a constant speed and direction. It was not fast but I could clearly see that it was moving.
There were no features that I could see and I could not spot any cables.

To this day I don't know what it was, so it remains a UFO.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:49 AM on November 14, 2023 [12 favorites]

I was out on a bike ride near sunset a few months ago, on a path that crosses a river. There was no one around when I stopped on the bridge to look at some birds a way out on the river. Herons or egrets, probably. One decided it would rather be on the other side of the bridge, and it flew over just a few yards away from me, only clearing the bridge railings by a couple feet.

I only had a few moments to realize it was approaching and then passing by. So sleek, and so big. I'd never seen one that close. When I crossed over to watch it land, I also saw a big turtle on the other side of the bridge. Turtles are definitely around, but not often easy to spot, since it's a fairly high bridge over a murky channel. So that was a lovely little late summer moment all for me.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:03 PM on November 14, 2023 [5 favorites]

A few years ago I was working a parent-helper shift at my daughter's preschool. I helped the kids get dressed for outdoor time and then took a group outside. It was December and a heavy snowstorm had blown in that morning. As we walked to the playground there were huge snowflakes falling and the cloud cover was just barely above the tops of the two-story houses nearby. I had just turned around to watch the line of preschoolers following me when I heard an astonishing and unearthly sound come from above. A gutteral, honking shriek. Out of a rift in the clouds above me I suddenly saw an enormous great blue heron diving toward the ground, whipping its sinuous neck around and making the incredible sound. Immediately in pursuit and harrying the crane's wings and head were two huge ravens. They tangled together in the sky just above the heads of my preschoolers for an instant, and it was like a rift into a prehistoric would populated by only by fierce avian raptors. Then the heron beat its heavy wings, and the trio shot skywards again and disappeared into the clouds. I looked down at the kids, with my mouth and eyes wide, and they looked back at me placidly, wondering why I had stopped their march to the playground. None of them had seen.
posted by otolith at 3:07 PM on November 14, 2023 [16 favorites]

I'm hesitating posting an AskMe asking about a specific Toronto bookstore in the 90s/early 2000s just because it may have all just been a dream.

Please post or explain. I must know.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:33 PM on November 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

A friend texted this to me recently:

“I was traveling on a country road in my area. There was a tractor pulling a full manure spreader. Then a Tesla with New Jersey plates. Then me. The tractor had us meandering at top speeds of 25mph in a 50. Although I would have preferred to be doing the speed limit - what are you going to do.

The Tesla in front of me (directly behind the manure spreader) was losing his shit. The idiot was tailgating a shit spreader. Beeping his horn. When he would try to pass the tractor would road rage with him and block his path. The Tesla was swerving. He was laying on the horn. Acting a total fool.

Well, this farmer had enough. He did something with the shit spreader while he was driving and shit started spraying up from the road. I saw it cover the Tesla. The Tesla slammed on his breaks. I almost hit him. I could see him flailing his arms around. I would like to think he was hyperventilating that is $95k car was actually covered in cow shit. I can't prove he was.

The icing on the cake. The farmer stopped his tractor. Turned around gave the guy his middle finger, waved and then proceeded to continue driving.”
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:48 PM on November 14, 2023 [39 favorites]

In the 80s, I was at a Grateful Dead concert in literally the front row (standing) against the wall. I swear Jerry looked at me and smiled. Later in the show, I was pretty sure he was playing flavored notes. Lots of Cherry and some lemon. None of the friends with me could confirm that, but then again, none of them could confirm even their names at that point. It was REAL.

I also swear I saw Warren Haynes in a Target in Mt. Kisco NY, but my gf who was with me had no idea who he was so I could not get confirmation. I guess I could have said, "Hey Warren" to him, but I never like to approach a celebrity or famous person when they are just trying to do ordinary things like shopping.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:34 PM on November 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

Christmastime, several years ago, driving early in the morning and watching the light play over four deer loping along the top of a snow-covered hill. This will always be what "the rising of the sun/and the running of the deer" means to me, this private moment of majesty and mystery.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:49 PM on November 14, 2023 [10 favorites]

Love that Tesla story MonkeyToes!!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:58 PM on November 14, 2023

I saw live human toddler quadruplets once at an airport being wrangled by a mom and a nanny. Everyone watching was equal parts fascinated on the one hand and fervently wishing they were on a different flight than them on the other hand.
posted by rekrap at 5:25 PM on November 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Wandering just after dusk off season in Mykonos (town), Greece, we came upon a small church. There were lights so we opened the door and looked in - it was lit inside with many candles but there was no one there. Outside there is a small cemetery and there were lit candles on the graves, though again, no one present. We two were the only people there. Old whitewashed walls, blue roofs, and candles in the dark. It was magical.
posted by gudrun at 5:28 PM on November 14, 2023 [13 favorites]

I saw a deer trip.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:37 PM on November 14, 2023 [8 favorites]

Twice I have seen animals I could not comprehend. Once, by a ditch in the storm sewer I used to play in all the time when I was little, I came across something that I called a hydra--that being the closest picture in my big book of animals that made any sense. I remember it being an almost colorless pink, with waving tentacles. It can't have been an actual hydra--too large, maybe half the size of a baby's fist, and too far from the water. Another time, still a kid, I was digging next to our fence and found an earthworm, or at least the flank of an earthworm, the largest earthworm I'd ever seen--nearly as thick as a garden hose, and moving through the dirt for so long that I could not imagine its length, segment after segment roiling by.

Neither time was there anyone around I could drag over and ask. So I don't really know what to do with the memories, other than let them sit there and disturb me?
posted by mittens at 6:12 PM on November 14, 2023 [5 favorites]

My kid and I saw a UFO or some kind of test aircraft when we were in a plane over Nevada a few months ago. I described it to my husband later who's a bit of an aircraft nerd and he agreed he'd never heard of anything like it. I mean, my eleven year old saw it too, I guess. Unfortunately I was so mesmerized by it I didn't think to get out my phone until it had already dived back under the clouds.

Probably fifteen years ago now I saw two squirrels eating mushrooms in my yard and acting completely wild. They did all these crazy somersaults while chattering loudly at each other and when I went out later I saw they'd just left this huge mess of little bits of mushroom all over where they'd been playing. It was just a couple years before I would have had a smartphone to record this blessed event but at the time, alas, I think I was carrying a phone that didn't even take photos.
posted by potrzebie at 6:17 PM on November 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

No way JohnnyGunn about when was that? I have to tell my spouse that A Person On The Internet Mentioned A Place We Used to Live (pretty sure that's a legal requirement) though regardless I'm sure I couldn't pick that guy out of a lineup, much less the Target
posted by Baethan at 6:48 PM on November 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thirty plus years ago while visiting at my best friend's house, I was alone in a room with her dad. He had had a massive stroke a few years earlier, and was ambulatory and fairly alert but could not communicate verbally ; any words he tried to form would come out as gibberish. Out of politeness I was chatting a bit, telling him about whatever his daughter and I had been up to that day when he interrupted me to ask, clear as a bell: "Where are you from?"

Later I told my friend, who was completely floored; since the stroke no one had ever heard him speak understandably.
posted by jerome powell buys his sweatbands in bulk only at 7:17 PM on November 14, 2023 [7 favorites]

I swear that I sat next to Michael Stipe once. I didn't say anything, for two reasons: I didn't want to embarrass or draw attention to him if he was, and I couldn't imagine that he'd be taking the 49 bus in Seattle - and that I'd be sitting next to him, on a bus, in Seattle.

We just gave each other silent nods, and had a nice, pleasant ride until I got off, a few stops later. He stayed on the bus.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:38 PM on November 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

I have mentioned before the Sprinting Handcuffed Nude Bloke of Surry Hills. Like Roland in Warren Zevon's song I imagine him still sprinting, sprinting through the night.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:41 PM on November 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

One day while walking through a main square in Cologne I chanced across a group of people completely wrapping a young man in saran wrap. When they were done they shouldered their transparent mummy and sprinted down the steps into the nearest subway.

I mean, I sort of want to know? But really it's fine if that remains a mystery.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:43 PM on November 14, 2023 [6 favorites]

I've got a squirrel one too. One very blustery morning when I was a kid, I was looking out the window onto the back deck of my parents' house, where we kept my younger siblings' big plastic pedal cars. And as the cars were blowing back and forth on the deck in the wind, I realized that squirrels were sitting in them, taking advantage of the wind to go for joyrides. And I swear, one of the squirrels even had its little paws on the steering wheel.
posted by capricorn at 7:45 PM on November 14, 2023 [17 favorites]

Another time, still a kid, I was digging next to our fence and found an earthworm, or at least the flank of an earthworm, the largest earthworm I'd ever seen--nearly as thick as a garden hose, and moving through the dirt for so long that I could not imagine its length, segment after segment roiling by.

I wonder if you saw a rubber boa. When I saw one my first thought "what a huge earthworm".
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

i was a child by the sea and it was a very hot day. a penguin, a hoiho yellow eyed penguin, walked up out of the waves and across the beach into town. i touched its wet feathers and can still remember how it felt. I presumed this was a dream but forty years later I found a photo my dad took of it that was published in the newspaper.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:54 PM on November 14, 2023 [13 favorites]

oh, i used to play cello with a band called fat freddys drop and i was playing in the back of a cafe with them and there was a little bald guy dancing like a madman to it, and i remember him stopping and looking at me really strangely and intensely. he had a hawaiian shirt on. moby was playing in town around then and I'm sure it was him.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:58 PM on November 14, 2023 [6 favorites]

Walking out of my favorite hipster coffee place back in September, I made eye contact with a little guy. Knit hat, unremarkable coat, but when I smiled, the smile he returned had this charisma to it that was oddly familiar.

As we passed, he gave me a cherubic little wink and went inside. Only when I'd buckled my seatbelt did I realize it was Jeff Tweedy.
posted by She Vaped An Entire Sock! at 2:37 AM on November 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

As a young child in the 1980s I saw a mountain lion in my backyard in suburban Massachusetts. I was playing by myself and saw it, it looked at me and roared/growled and I ran back inside. I didn't know what a mountain lion was but we had a reference book on north American mammals and I found it there. It was exactly what I had seen. No one in my family believed me and to this day they joke about it, and I feel vindicated every few years when there is another mountain lion sighting somewhere in new England.
posted by emd3737 at 4:22 AM on November 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

Fleeting sky phenomena are pretty good for this. Once I saw an incredibly vivid rainbow right around sunset. The thing about rainbows when the sun is super low is that they can be basically monochromatic. Picture a rainbow, but all red, against a red sky. It was really striking, but by the time I reached the home of the friends I was visiting, it had vanished.

Another time I saw a circumhorizontal arc. This wasn’t technically alone — I was on a boat with some friends and I think I pointed it out to them. But it was cool enough to be worth a mention.
posted by eirias at 5:32 AM on November 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

One beautifully-sunny early fall day a couple of years ago, I was driving on a state road, on my way to a small town or somesuch. As I approached a lone farmhouse sitting next to the road, I noticed this tall, narrow tree in the front yard. It was a good 30-or-more-feet tall and, as I said, narrow. So it seemed as spike pointing into the sky.

Its leaves were starting to turn color, but the way it was doing so was spectacular. Imagine this spike reaching into the sky, and its top leaves were an intense, bright scarlet. Its bottom leaves were still a deep green. And the leaves in between described this bright, perfect, gradation of intense colors between the two extremes. Reds, rusts, oranges, yellows, acid greens, grass greens, etc., all ablaze in the clear, sunny sky. Just amazing.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:41 AM on November 15, 2023 [21 favorites]

One December evening about 5 years ago, I was crossing the Rio Grande on the Central Avenue Bridge in Albuquerque. Midway over the river, I looked down at the dark, fast-moving water and saw what I first thought was a floating tree trunk about 10-12 feet long. But then I saw it had a snout and a tail, which it flexed and swished to dive under the water. Afterwards, I learned that alligator gar live in that river, but the fish I thought I saw seemed twice as large as as the biggest fish I've seen pictured online.
posted by hhc5 at 7:10 AM on November 15, 2023 [5 favorites]

I was driving home after work a few years ago and for no real reason took a slightly different route, which at one point included a long uphill drive which ended in a controlled T-intersection with a view of a glacial valley and the hills beyond. As I approached the light, my eyes were trained mostly on the developing sunset before me—and at that moment a brilliant fireball tore though the sky over the hills, directly in my line of vision. It was so dramatic and beautiful, and was gone so quickly, that I questioned its reality. Literally took my breath away.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:39 AM on November 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

One day at the end of a long hike with a friend, as the sky was darkening into dusk, we saw a meteor so wide it looked like a streak from a highlighter swiped across the sky. I can only imagine what that would have looked like in full dark.

Another time with my spouse, visiting her in-laws in Florida, we saw something entering the atmosphere. It looked like a glowing red-orange arc followed by a few bright red-orange dots. After a few seconds, it completely broke up and disappeared. This would have been in the late 1990s, so we couldn't run to social media to see what it might have been. I've always wondered if it could have been a jettisoned part of a rocket breaking up on reentry, but we didn't see any indication of actual rocket being launched. My other thought was that it was just random space debris.
posted by mollweide at 8:02 AM on November 15, 2023

This feels like the right place for me to mention that we are currently having a local crime wave because an owl keeps stealing people's hats (and one pair of sunglasses) off their heads. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I have seen multiple pictures now of the winged bandit on my local social media.
posted by thivaia at 8:14 AM on November 15, 2023 [20 favorites]

I've seen sugar maples do that, Thorzdad, it is indeed pretty spectacular.
posted by mollweide at 8:17 AM on November 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Speaking of naughty birds, a few years ago on a beautiful autumn afternoon I was out walking by a nearby lake and saw a juvenile bald eagle. We get lots of them, usually not so close to the footpath, but it was RIGHT THERE in a tree looking all scruffy/awkward in that unique way teenage raptors look. Then it unloaded a giant crap that noisily splattered all over a BMW parked below. It looked like someone had splashed it with a quart of white paint. Oh how I laughed.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:27 AM on November 15, 2023 [9 favorites]

Some decades ago, some friends and I took a pack trip south along the Pacific Crest Trail from Red's Meadow to the old John Muir Trail, making a loop east then north, back to Mono Hot Springs. We dawdled a bit. We had three riding horses and two pack mules in our little party.

After crossing Seledon Pass, we decided to spend the night at Seldon Lakes, the several small lakes just south of the pass. I hobbled my mare and left them free to meander about the meadows for the night.

When we got up the next morning, the critters were all gone. Tracks indicated they had wandered back over the pass to our last camp near Rose Marie Lake. This sort of thing had happened before. As we all know, horses and mules have little trouble moving uphill in hobbles, and although it's ungainly for them to walk while hobbled, they have no trouble loping. Anyway, that meadow was only about 10 miles north of Seldon Pass. (As I said, we dawdled on this trip.) So I took a halter and a lead-rope, left my friends in camp, and took off over the pass. I figured on riding my mare bareback on the return trip and calculated my ETA to be in the early afternoon. You can do much worse than a day hike in the High Sierras.

I arrived at the summit of Seldon Pass at about ten o'clock and took my lunch break on a south-facing boulder the size of a small town to enjoy the view north, overlooking both Marie and Rose Marie Lakes and east to the massive Granite walls that dominated the area. At that very moment, what I suppose was ice expansion in a crevice in that massive granite wall snapped off a few thousand tons of rock, making a sound like an artillery barrage. The rocks slid with an eerie screech, then settled in a rumble that seemed to echo for a full minute. All this happened with a sound lag of maybe two or three seconds.

I believe I was the only human privileged to witness that event. In the moment, I could easily believe that mountain gods were merely clearing their throats to me of my place.
posted by mule98J at 8:38 AM on November 15, 2023 [17 favorites]

I feel like I have told his story here before (but did not come up in a search)

90s San Francisco, early in the morning. I am walking up New Montgomery, toward the Transamerica Pyramid. I hear a sound like a fog horn...a few minutes later I hear it again, and a human sound...as I near the Pyramid I see a man beneath it, wearing a tuba. he blows a long note and then sings loudy "RICOLAAAAAAAA" and repeat.

there was no one else in the vicinity but me, and him, and his tuba. it was peek SF (back when the city was still fun and weird)
posted by supermedusa at 9:21 AM on November 15, 2023 [12 favorites]

I was driving through the corner where Ohio and Pennsylvania meet, deep in Amish country. I looked over to my right and there was a little Amish girl sitting on the front steps of a farmhouse, eating an ice cream cone with pure concentration. The light was perfect and the whole setting: the bits of farm equipment in the yard, the dog, her dirty bare feet, were just so somehow amazing. I thought, this would be the perfect photograph, this is it, right here, the award winner, the career changer. But I didn’t try to pull over and get out of the car; it was a perfect moment just as it was and entering it would have changed it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:37 AM on November 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

This takes me all the way back to being three years old. I awakened late at night to find my mother standing next to my bed, absolutely still, staring straight ahead. I recall being drowsily puzzled, but immediately falling asleep again.

As an adult, I asked my mother about this, and we were unable to resolve whether I was having a dream-within-a-dream or if she was actually there. The complication: when I was a baby, she started sleepwalking, although that should have been over by the time I was three. But did she have another episode? A minor family mystery!
posted by thomas j wise at 10:17 AM on November 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

In a small plane over northern Laos, I look out the window and reflected on the clouds below me is a golden disk (reflection of the sun), with the shadow of my plane in the middle, the whole thing surrounded by a 360deg rainbow ring.

...absolutely no idea how that would work, optically, but there it was.
posted by aramaic at 11:59 AM on November 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

When my dad was a kid he had a pet raccoon, named Joe. They lived in the carriage house of a mansion in St. Paul, MN; my grandpa was the chauffeur and mechanic for the house's owner. Dad did stuff like carry a hod and raise hamsters for the downtown Woolworth's to sell, some of which sound like he made them up from whole cloth.

Now I believe that I have seen a black-and-white snapshot of my dad, sporting a blonde crewcut, walking his raccoon down Summit Avenue on a leash. No one in the family has squashed this notion of mine, but I also haven't found the photo again in the years since.

Damn, how I want my dad to have had a pet raccoon named Joe, and to have that picture hanging on the wall of my house.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2023 [18 favorites]

About ten years ago, I was hiking along the ridge of Crib Goch in Wales when I saw a glory - standing on top of the ridge, I looked down and saw a circular rainbow with an outline of my shadow in the centre of it. That was unforgettable.
posted by damsel with a dulcimer at 3:00 PM on November 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

90s San Francisco, early in the morning. I am walking up New Montgomery, toward the Transamerica Pyramid. I hear a sound like a fog horn...a few minutes later I hear it again, and a human sound...as I near the Pyramid I see a man beneath it, wearing a tuba. he blows a long note and then sings loudy "RICOLAAAAAAAA" and repeat.

there was no one else in the vicinity but me, and him, and his tuba. it was peek SF (back when the city was still fun and weird)
posted by

This reminds me of an early Sunday morning, and I was going for a walk in the woods. Much to my surprise, I heard the sound of a bagpipe. (I love the sound of bagpipes, but this was in a wooded park in NJ, so...unexpected!)

I quietly headed toward the sound, to see a man practicing his bagpipes. I crept away before he saw me, and really enjoyed my walk in the woods with a bagpipe soundtrack.
posted by annieb at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

Once while driving through snowy woods in the early morning, I rounded a corner and there were two wolves standing together on the side of the road, just watching silently. They were gorgeous.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:00 PM on November 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

The northern lights are always interesting but one night they were nuts and going off in a way that should have been impossible - a narrow gap of black and on both sides waves of green shades pulsing up to but not across the gap. It was like something was being born. I've never seen anything like it again.
posted by ashbury at 6:39 PM on November 15, 2023 [5 favorites]

I have two stories:

It was my birthday. I was changing out the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder. As I came back outside to hang it up again there was a bird zinging around me. I told him to be patient. He couldn't wait, though. So, as I was holding the feeder in my hand, this little hummingbird landed on the feeder and took a drink. I held my breath. It was the perfect present.

Forever ago, when I was a kid, I was in Florida. We had stepped outside for a moment to look at a cool lightning storm. Lightning bolts spread across the night sky - it was super cool. I happened to look up in the sky to my left, and up above, I see a man in white robes walking in the sky. My stepmother would've made fun of me, so I kept my mouth shut and stared at this person in the sky with wonder.
posted by skunk pig at 6:57 PM on November 15, 2023 [12 favorites]

I saw a big meteor going straight down the sky above Shattuck Avenue in dusk, bright enough that it was the light I noticed, long lasting enough that I expected lots of the many passersby to have seen it. But no one else was looking up.
posted by clew at 10:23 PM on November 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

But no one else was looking up.

I have seen all sorts of wonders in the sky and have found that very few people actually bother to look up.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:30 AM on November 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

Sometime when I was small, and traveling in the backseat of a car with my family down a highway. A hawk flew down beside my window, turned its head, and looked in, right at me, and then banked up and away. It happened in a split second. I, of course, immediately told everyone, to much ridicule. Not a single person in the car believed me but I told myself over and over it was real and had happened, as to not forget.

It happened!
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:43 AM on November 16, 2023 [14 favorites]

annieb I also love the sound of bagpipes!! where in NJ? I grew up there.
posted by supermedusa at 8:16 AM on November 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

not strictly relevant to the topic, but re: looking up.

I was on a walk in SF with a friend and we came down the embarcadero. it was superbowl sunday and we stopped outside of a sports bar because there was an absolutely MASSIVE murmuration going on right over head. we must have stood there 20 minutes, necks craned, mouths agape. an occasional smoker would come out of the bar for a quick break, but if they happened to look up they would forget about the game. nature is truly amazing.
posted by supermedusa at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2023 [5 favorites]

supermedusa: I also love the sound of bagpipes!!

You wouldn't if you grew up where I did, across the street from Macalester College in Minnesota.

Their mascot is a bagpiper, their teams are the Fighting Pipers, and for a few years running we were woken some weekend mornings by an amateur piper practicing outside the dorms.

How -- and why -- he was not briskly beaten to death by the residents remains a mystery, and supports my belief that Mac students are all devoted pacifists.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2023 [3 favorites]

It was Christmas or Thanksgiving and I was waiting for a connecting flight in an airport, probably O'Hare. And I saw a child of three, maybe four at the outside, wearing perfectly tailored black pants and a skin-tight black turtleneck. He was standing alone, silent and unsmiling, pondering the middle distance while looking very luxe and just viciously chic. I had never seen a young child wearing black before; it was quite striking. Nobody in the child's family group was wearing black, and none of them looked like tiny supermodels; they were a normal midwestern family with one changeling child from another, sadder and more elegant world. After a moment spent observing this phenomenon, it was as if the airport concourse ceiling split asunder and a pure light shone from heaven straight into my brain. That was when my magnum opus that should have been dawned upon me: I was born to produce Toddler Hamlet. But as soon as the Great Wave broke over me it was gone again and I was left swamped and enervated by the conviction that the melancholy four year old, much like the above-described dirty-footed Amish child eating ice cream, was for me and for me alone, and trying to preserve this vision for the rest of the human race would not be possible and would only spoil it for me. Thus I have done nothing creative since about 1990 and this is the first I've revealed the beautiful world I glimpsed that day in all this time except for all the people I told it to in the week or so following the sighting, who, to a person, scoffed and said the toddlers would never be able to memorize their lines. What about that Norwegian actress who learned all her lines phonetically and they filmed, like, sentence by sentence, I asked them? Couldn't that work? But no. No, alas and alack, Toddler Hamlet is not to be.

In Maine I kayaked next to a seal I thought was dead but when I just barely touched it with the tip of my paddle, it freaked out and boiled away under the kayak. It had only been napping. Also while kayaking, this time in the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida or Georgia, a similar thing happened with a couple of dolphins, who didn't notice the kayak until it was basically on top of them, whereupon they nearly flipped me out of it panicking.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:24 PM on November 16, 2023 [15 favorites]

When my son was about seven, we hiked across the arroyo from our cabin in the Sierra foothills east of Fresno. Our mission was to reach a clearing so that he could fly his Batman kite. We accomplished that.

I lofted the the kite, and Young mule98j payed out about 50 feet of his line into a steady wind and held it there. Almost immediately, a young Golden Eagle, barely into its flight feathers, glided down next to his kite, hovering there while he eyed it with undisguised curiosity. We stood in silence, not wishing to disturb that precious moment of communion between Young mule, myself, and the young eagle.

Then the fantastic part of my tale happened: The young eagle's parents bracketed him, and the updraft held them beside Young mule's kite until the young eagle shifted his feathers, and the three soared away. During those entire magical moments, none of the eagles so much as flapped a wing.

Young mule reeled in his kite and said, "Dad, maybe we should go home now."
posted by mule98J at 4:08 PM on November 16, 2023 [21 favorites]

Oh god, the Northern Lights!

When I was a kid my parents woke me up one night, I think it was circa October or November (cold in Edmonton!) and dragged me outside against my protestations -- the entire sky, from horizon to horizon, looked like it was composed of electric pink needles that kept shifting slightly against each other.

Utterly bonkers.

Never saw anything like that again -- much more greens and whites.
posted by aramaic at 6:23 PM on November 16, 2023 [5 favorites]

From the department of surely I can't be the only one seeing this, about 10 or 15 years ago I was in the city when I happened to notice the sky was covered in mammatus clouds. I had never seen any in real life before and it was one of the strangest things I had ever seen. No one else seemed to be staring up at the sky in shock and awe the way I was, so it felt like I was the only one who could see this possible impending doom. (No doom eventuated; well, not directly attributable to the mammatus clouds anyway.)

Another time I was on a walk down by a local creek and noticed an echidna bumbling its way through the long grass. It noticed me too, whereupon it proceeded to stick its head into the grass as if it were some kind of cousin of the bugblatter beast of Traal and thought that if it couldn't see me, I couldn't see it. Its spiny bum was still hanging out so I'm not sure that was the best survival strategy - or maybe it just needed to burrow faster. It was still very cool though!
posted by Athanassiel at 8:29 PM on November 16, 2023 [5 favorites]

On 11th August 1999, I was standing on a hill in Cornwall, to witness the only total solar eclipse that will reach the UK in my lifetime. It was cloudy, because Britain, but in the end I didn't care, and this is why.

There was a massive crowd up there by the time of the eclipse at 11am. But I had gotten up at 5am to be the very first person up that hill. I'd climbed up onto the trig point on the top, and stood up on top of it for the whole six hour wait so that nobody could steal my spot.

Which meant that of all the people crowded on that hill, I was the only one with a clear view to the west, out to sea. And despite the cloud cover above us, I could see all the way to the horizon, which given the height of that hill must have been a good fifty miles.

If the sun is behind the clouds, a total solar eclipse mostly consists of watching the sky get gradually dimmer, go dark for a minute, and then gradually brighten again.

But I could see far enough, over the uniform grey of the sea, that for a few moments before the totality reached us, I could actually watch the shadow moving: a circle of darkness on the water, wider than the horizon, rushing across the sea towards us at two and a half thousand miles an hour.

I remember it hitting, and the world turning dark at that instant - but because I had watched it come, there was throughout the brief period of totality this sensation in my mind like that of a giant freight train hurtling by. And then one minute later I watched the trailing edge of it follow across the sea, and snapping my head around as it hit, for a split second I could see that dark edge rolling across the next hills to the east.

In the twenty years since, I have yet to see any video of an eclipse that manages to capture it: the moving shape, the sense that you are actually briefly in the shadow of something immense, passing by at almost unimaginable speed.
posted by automatronic at 8:59 PM on November 16, 2023 [42 favorites]

Oh, I have a lot of these. I'll share two - one mundane but adorable, one I suspect few believe.

Last week I was sitting in the living room. One of the cats, Jasmine, was sitting up on the arm of the empty recliner, intently watching a fruitfly buzz about. Then she swiftly stood straight up, and clapped her front paws together. She sank down to her haunches, staring intently at the two paws still tightly pressed together in front of her face. She slowly opened them up and huffed a bit when she saw no fruitfly between them. She did this a couple more times, looking for all the world like a toddler trying to catch a butterfly. I was utterly charmed.

When I was a kid I would sometimes grab a book, a sandwich and a thermos of water and climb up into my favorite tree to spend the day. This particular tree was perfectly shaped for a kid like me. There was a broad branch parallel to the forest floor that split into two smaller branches that then rose upward. With a backpack jammed between the rising branches, it was a great spot to lounge and read and watch the forest.

One day I fell asleep up there. I woke to a hushed wood. I think that's what woke me - all the little shuffling, fluttering sounds of life among the trees were just gone. I looked down, and standing on the thick carpet of old leaves below my tree was a Florida panther.

She was thin, and her engorged teats told me that she had cubs somewhere. This passed through my mind, and then she looked up at me.

I have no idea how long we gazed at each other. It could have been seconds or minutes - it felt both fleeting and eternal. I was not afraid, though I should have been. I just felt awe and a sudden rush of love, for her, for the forest, for nature I suppose.

Then the moment was over. She blinked, and turned away, sauntering off in that nonchalant yet deadly carriage of so many big cats. I stayed in that tree for hours afterward, while the sounds of the wood returned to their normal music. I knew I couldn't have that moment back, but I couldn't bear to leave.

It was well after sunset before I scrambled down and headed back home. I was punished for lying, as well as being late, but they never could make me say it didn't happen.
posted by Vigilant at 11:01 PM on November 16, 2023 [25 favorites]

I was walking through some dense woods alone one day and heard what sounded like a human scream very close to me. I looked around and saw a startled doe with her fawns about 2 yards away. I had no idea a deer could scream like that, apologized and went the opposite direction!

I once had a bald eagle fly directly above and very close to my car as I was driving. It's wingspan was as wide as my entire windshield. It didn't crap on it like the one mentioned above though since it was just a Honda and not a BMW. :P

Another time I was driving I saw an opossum out in the day time walking on the side of the road. I didn't think too much about it, but did a double take because it's skin was literally crawling/shifting in the most creepy way. It wasn't possessed though, it had a bunch of babies along for the ride on it's back.
posted by Eyelash at 4:04 AM on November 17, 2023 [6 favorites]

One summer in college They Might Be Giants were playing a free outdoor show in downtown St. Louis. My buddies and I loved playing Wiffle Ball and so we packed a cooler and went downtown early and went inside the Serra Sculpture (a collection of giant metal walls) and played for hours as we waited for the nighttime. Halfway through, the band came on and did its soundcheck and we were treated to a mini concert. They played a seemingly-improvised version of Baba O'Riley and it was one of those perfect moments in life. My best good buddies and I were drinking beer and playing Wiffle Ball in the park on a perfect summer day as our favorite band played a concert for us. (I am sure hundreds of other people within sonic range might have a similar story but that field was just ours.)
posted by AgentRocket at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2023 [5 favorites]

In the mid-1980s, long before all the Crossrail development, there were large abstract fountains at the foot of the Centrepoint tower block in central London, at the junction of Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road. I was walking past them in mid-afternoon, probably in July or August, and a young woman was bathing naked in the fountain.

Nobody else seemed to see her. British people are very good at putting up what Douglas Adams called the 'Somebody Else's Problem Field' but there was a real sense that the passers-by weren't ignoring her, they were literally not aware of her presence. And the street was busy.
posted by Hogshead at 8:37 AM on November 17, 2023 [5 favorites]

I've gotten more validation here for my hawk story than from anyone in my family and it feels good, thank you for this post, haha!
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2023 [5 favorites]

Mine is less seeing something fantastic and more seeing something unusual, not being believed, and then spending decades thinking it was imaginary but then learning it wasn't.

When I was about 5 I was playing outside with a couple of friends. There were low clouds but we heard a roar of jet engines so we were looking up. Then through a break in the clouds at low altitude there was a huge angular airplane, shaped kind of like a combination of a V and a W, escorted on each side by fighter jets. I was like, wow, what a weird airplane but my friends were convinced it was a UFO. We told some adults about it and they al basically said "what creative imaginations you kids have! What will you make up next?" So after a bit I just figured maybe it was something made up and filed it away as something fake that felt completely real.

Then, a couple of decades later, I was living near an airforce base and they announced an open day where you could go on base and walk around in a hanger looking at their planes. I'd never been interested at all in military planes but my friend was, so I went with him to look at the expensive war toys, and right in the middle of the exhibit they had a B-2 stealth bomber. I knew instantly, but crouched down to see what it looked like from below to be sure, and it was obvious that what I had seen when I was a kid was an early testflight of a B-2 prototype. So I hadn't imagined anything, but because the adults were so firm that what we described was impossible, I ended up disbelieving myself for a long time.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:37 AM on November 18, 2023 [14 favorites]

one time I saw a goose trip over a swan’s outstretched neck
posted by cabbage raccoon at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2023 [13 favorites]

Last year, a week before halloween, during a full moon, my husband and I were walking down the street in our neighborhood and came across two young women in long dresses sitting on the sidewalk completely encircled by 10-20 cats. The women and the cats did not know each other. I was like, y'all are witches, right?
posted by Toddles at 9:46 PM on November 19, 2023 [5 favorites]

Walking by a pond in Stanley Park in the 90's, I saw a Great Blue Heron eat a duckling. I knew nature was cold and harsh, but what a way to have it confirmed. No one else on the path seemed to notice this quick and vicious moment.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:29 AM on November 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

In a small plane over northern Laos, I look out the window and reflected on the clouds below me is a golden disk (reflection of the sun), with the shadow of my plane in the middle, the whole thing surrounded by a 360deg rainbow ring.

...absolutely no idea how that would work, optically, but there it was.

You were observing the opposition surge in the reflection of light from the clouds. "Opposition" happens when the observed object (the clouds, in this case), the observer, and the illumination source all line up perfectly. In this case, you can tell the alignment is perfect because the shadow of the plane is visible at the center of the bright spot. It's bright because when you view a surface with your source of illumination directly behind you, you don't see any shadows, you only see illuminated parts of the surface. My favorite astronomical example is the shadow of the Hyabusa spacecraft on the asteroid Itokawa. (It is a low res image so it looks better the more you zoom out.) Here's the opposition surge on Saturn's rings. (You can't see the spacecrafts' shadow in this image because Cassini is too far away from the rings.)

The way electromagnetic waves interact with small uniform spherical bodies, like droplets of water in a cloud is strongly wavelength-dependent (Mie scattering). The technical term for that kind of rainbow effect is a "glory." (There's no glory in the spacecraft images because there's no internal reflection in rocks or large, opaque icy ring particles.)

I don't want to ruin your sense of wonder, but...What you saw is called a pilot's glory and it's pretty common.

posted by BrashTech at 10:41 AM on November 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

Reading this thread I have realized: I would rather witness an animal tripping over another, than witness a UFO.
posted by Kabanos at 5:47 AM on November 22, 2023 [6 favorites]

ooh I have seen vampires. like, I don't know what to tell you but seriously...

my friend Jim & I were drunkenly running around on Ocean Beach in SF and we passed this group of people. they did not pay us any attention but Jim turned to me and we both said "vampires". we agreed they must have already fed and that we were lucky.

posted by supermedusa at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2023 [4 favorites]

In a small plane over northern Laos, I look out the window and reflected on the clouds below me is a golden disk (reflection of the sun), with the shadow of my plane in the middle, the whole thing surrounded by a 360deg rainbow ring.

That was a Brocken spectre!
posted by cyanistes at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2023

I was traveling on a country road in my area. There was a tractor pulling a full manure spreader. Then a Tesla with New Jersey plates. Then me.

In defense of New Jersey, I would like to point out that A) there are plenty of farms (and shit spreaders) in NJ, and B) there are plenty of decent, rural folks in NJ.

Also, C) in NJ they roll their eyes at the idiots with PA plates.
posted by intermod at 7:04 PM on November 22, 2023 [4 favorites]

In the theme of rare natural phenomena, here's something that I once witnessed that I have never heard anyone else talk about: a lunar rainbow aka moonbow. It was a clear night with a near full moon, and an otherwise dark sky. There was rain in the area, I forget if it had rained on us or not. In the distance there was a pale arc that I realized probably contained the full spectrum, but was not bright enough for me to perceive the colors.
posted by Horselover Fat at 6:07 PM on November 23, 2023 [3 favorites]

When we visited Havana a few years ago we took the bus down to Parque Lenin and spent most of the day there. Many of the kiosks were staffed although there were not many people in the park. At a food/drink cart, two men were watching TV. We asked for beers. They thought they only had two Cristals left and they were planning to drink those. We were going to leave, but then they found two more, so they sold us those.

Later we were walking in a truly deserted part of the park when a man rode through on a bicycle selling tamales. He had two left, which he sold us.

Later we were riding the bus home. Keeping up with us in traffic was a man on a bicycle carrying an entire sheet cake on his handlebars. It was decorated for a birthday with yellow roses and rope twist on the edges. In traffic! On, like, the Calzada Diez de Octubre!
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:29 PM on November 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Seven or eight years ago, I met up with a handful of likeminded motorcyclists (BMW F650 single riders) to prowl the paved & unpaved roads near Hot Springs, NC.

After a full day of riding, we were riding through Newport, TN on our way back to camp; I was leading the group of six. We were stopped at a light when a barefoot person wearing only a flapping hospital johnnie came running hard down the hill, crossed the road in front of me and continuted into the strip mall parking lot on the other side. A few moments later, an overweight police officer came running down the hill, huffing and puffing, and chased the first person across the road.

It was an amazing moment of utter slapstick comedy and not one of my friends saw it happen. I even bought the Newport newspaper the next day, hoping to prove that the incident even happened, but there was no mention of it.
posted by workerant at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2023

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