I watched the Perseid meteor shower this morning. Very, very early this morning. If you’ve ever watched a meteor shower, you know it’s not a constant barrage like Hollywood movies show. I looked at the stars a lot, and sometimes a meteor streaked across the sky. Still, I saw several, most with distinct and lingering trails, some brighter than the brightest stars. Awesome that tiny little specks of dust, mostly, burning up in atmosphere, could be so impressive.
And it was a micro-adventure. Clear skies, and the moon set well before 4:00 am. Like a lot of places in the middle of N.C., there was a lot of light pollution. But I walked into a big empty field and got a little distance from the worst lights. Walking without the flashlight on to let my eyes adapt, I also startled… something. Two somethings that hissed at me. Cutting on the flashlight (with ninja speed because I was startled, too), I saw two pairs of glowing green eyes reluctantly moving away in a four-pawed gait. And hissing. Too big for house cats. Possums? Bobcats? Yeti? Small aliens reclaiming bits of their downed UFO? The flashlight ruined my night vision, so it was really dark when I cut it off. Alone in the dark, anything seemed possible. But I had my flashlight and lead pipe just in case.
The probable-possums left, I spread my blanket, and watched the stars for the next hour and a half or so. My eyes adapted and I listened to the chirps and buzzes of insects (and traffic noise from the highway). I felt connected to the cosmos (and occasionally scanned the ground to avoid getting too connected to crazed critters). Sometimes meteors streaked across the sky. It took a bit of effort and planning, but the chance to do something uncommon was there. Better to take the chance than always keep my comfortable routine, even though I need the time to get ready for the new semester.