Friday, August 13, 2010
Darkling, I Watch.
This is a photo of me watching for meteors. It is not a photo of the night sky. The night sky would have stars. Or clouds. Or at least something to show for itself. Hint: this is a photo that represents the inside of my eyelids. I made it by laying the iPhone on its face and turning off the flash. Very clever, Grasshopper.
Last night was the very epicenter of Perseid Meteor Shower Watching on Planet Earth. NASA was on board with live chat and "sounds of meteors." (My son John says if you hear a meteor, it's probably a bad thing.)
I learned that it was Meteoric Prime Time a couple of minutes after I put on my pajamas and headed for bed. But I was raised by a lot of folks in West Virginia to "have experiences you'll always remember." And "not miss this." And "once in a lifetime." So, I rallied the troops.
Last year we watched meteor showers while lying on the driveway and almost got run over. But it was fun, if not cushy. Last night it seemed prudent to just use the deck off the kitchen, even though its view of night sky is somewhat blocked by a big old Norway Maple.
NOTE: I once read a quote from a botanist who said, "Life is too short to waste on Norway Maples." But what the heck. It volunteered. I admire its spunk. And it could be holding the house up for all we know.
So right away, I decided we were in "the wrong place." We should be in the driveway. We should be down on the rocks. We should be in A Better Place. Not Heaven. Just a better place for looking at it.
This is so me. It's Annie's Law #2: If I'm here, this must be The Wrong Place. It lives right next to Annie's Law #3: If I'm here now, this must be The Wrong Time. We won't even discuss Annie's Law #1.
After I chewed on that for awhile and suggested to the guys that we go down to the rocks and got that suggestion firmly rejected and wasn't brave enough to risk raccoons, minks, mosquitoes, and possibly even a skunk, all by myself, I settled down and accepted my substandard place.
So then I decided I wasn't "looking right." (There's an Annie's Law about that, too. It may be associated with Law #1.) I was maybe in the right place, but looking in the wrong place. Or was I was looking in the right place but being too distractible and not looking in the right place long enough? Maybe my eyes were fogging up from too much looking.
Maybe.... This concern was exacerbated by a blur of something and the guys saying, "There's one." "Wow," I said halfheartedly. "Okay."
After the guys saw something else and liked that, they were satisfied. And since I didn't want to risk mosquitoes or falling asleep alone on the deck in the nighttime. Or being terminally bored or disappointed. Or, possibly, A Loser. I went to bed, too.
You can see the sky great from the bed. I could see it fine. I watched for awhile, admiring the stars and trying to determine where I should focus my attention. It seemed too easy, not enough of an adventure or a challenge to lie there all comfy. It made my eyelids heavy, too.
So, then of course I decided I was in the "wrong place." If I plastered myself against the window and looked straight up, I'd be able be see the apex of the sky where meteors would be queuing up to entertain me.
To do this, naturally, I had to lie on the floor. That was not comfortable. I put one foot up on the bed to kind of mediate the back pain. It worked but it looked like I'd killed myself in a goofy fall. I'd give it two more minutes tops and then I was DONE.
I saw one.
It was an absolutely fabulous one. From the very apex of the sky, going over, coming down. Big and blue-white. Silent as the end of time. Streaming its five seconds of fame behind it. Sure of itself and its inevitable passage to destruction. In its exactly right place. At its only possible time. Perfect in every way.
It stopped my heart and made it totally worth my while to be lying on the floor by the door with one foot up in the air.
Of course, now that I'd established "the best place to watch" I couldn't stay there all night. Or even five more minutes. That floor was HARD. So I moved back up on the bed and watched the sky from there and saw a big raccoon come across the roof to the door and invite the cat out to play. The cat declined.
And then, shortly after that, I found myself watching the scene depicted in the photo above.