Monday, November 10, 2008
I'm going to let you in on a secret obsession of mine. Okay, the secret is not that I have obsessions--that's something that's immediately obvious to anyone who talks to me for more than a few minutes. The secret is my obsession with the sky and all the interesting things that happen up there.
When I was little, my parents used to tell me to stop shuffling my feet and looking at the ground. I was always surprised by that because so often I was thinking about things in the sky. Not the woo-woo X-files kind of things, but rather the immensity of the sky, and the nothingness of it, the great formations the clouds made, the magic of the stars so far away and so constant. I loved the way the sky changed, too. With each hour of the day, the colors were different. And as the seasons passed, the light shifted across the treeline in such a specific way that, if you looked closely enough, you could almost tell what month it was.
In the spring and summer, like every other kid who grew up in suburbia of the 70s and 80s, I spent a lot of time running around outside until long after the sun had set. It was a delicious feeling to lie back in the grassy yard as the dusk settled in around me. I would stretch out and stare at the sky where it met the branches of the backyard trees until the contrast was so great it hurt my eyes. Once the darkness was thick enough to blot out the spaces between the leaves, I could sometimes believe I could feel the earth as it spun toward the next day.
So I am a sky-gazer. My love for all things celestial didn't fade as I got older; if anything, it intensified. Among some of my most treasured memories are times that I saw something amazing in the sky: a sundog, a huge rainbow over the bay, the northern lights, an eclipse, a spectacular meteor shower, a towering lightening storm as it charged off the Atlantic onto our island...
The beauty of all of these is that they made me stop, and stare, and appreciate how tiny I really am in the scheme of things. I have been so awed by some of these that I have sprinted inside for the phone (think back before cell phones) and literally begged family members to "run outside as fast as you can and LOOK UP!"
So far, I am still looking for takers to watch the sky when something amazing is happening--will you join me? Tonight there is supposed to be a fantastic meteor show(er) called the Taurids, visible in the Northern Hemisphere just before midnight. If you are so inclined, take a look into the eastern sky, and see if you can see some shooting stars with me.
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