The Sky at Night.


Honey, remember how we used to sit on the porch and watch the meteor showers? Come out with me!

I stand at the door, unwilling to venture out alone. I briefly flip on the light to make sure there’s nothing out there, but even so I hesitate. The tiniest bit of light stretches from the streetlamp on the other side of the house and the automatic lights in the yard. It is dark, but warm.

When he finally joins me, I let him lead me out on the deck. He leaves me there and goes back for chairs. The spring rockers are perfect – just lean back and look up.

My hand reaches out to touch his leg, a gentle (and probably annoying) reminder that doubles as a request to stop idly shaking it. We sit mostly in silence, peering at the starry blanket for the promised meteor display. Each year at this time, our planet wanders through this comet debris field and we ooh and ahh at the light show. It’s just dust and rocks, but it’s cool, like driving at night through a snow flurry.

This year, though, I almost missed it, as I sat in my normal spot in front of the screen and tuned out. Shame on me!

For years, we’ve taken chairs outside in mid-August to watch the sky after dark when we were lucky enough to not be thwarted by cloud cover. I still remember the arcs of static electricity between us and our old plastic deck chairs.

We hold hands and talk about stuff. Just stuff.

I watch my first meteor of the night streak across from right to left. In a few seconds, I spot a satellite making its way nearly perpendicular to the meteor’s path. I wonder if anyone really thinks about how many satellites are up there every day, all the time. I am fascinated by the brilliant minds of history who make these things possible. We speak of the miracle of satellites in space, and then our talk turns to our satellite television dish, which isn’t working right, and the technician who’s coming to fix it. Then more quiet. It seems wrong to break the silence.

One, two, three. I’m starting to get a chill from the light, but persistent, wind which has gotten stronger since we sat down. I ask what our goal is for the evening – we always decide the number of we want to see before bedtime. Tonight, it’s five.

Ooh — he sees one, but I miss it, because I’m looking the other way. Now he’s at four, and I have three. The wind pushes at me, and the hair on my arms rises.  I hear the rustle of the trees and the small complaint of the spring as I rock in my chair.  It’s a beautiful night.

There — I see a short, fat streak closer to the horizon than the others. He misses it, so we’re even. We watch for the next one, and soon we are rewarded. We would see more if we could stay up, but on a work night, morning comes early.

Again, I let him lead me, holding his hand as he threads his way past porch swing and dog dish, back inside to go to bed.



 photo credit snowpeak


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Aging like a fine wine. ;-)

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