Phoning Home On a Starry Night
by M.L. Faunce
Thoughts large and small on a moonless night when all was calm, all was bright
The millennium may be fast approaching, but 2030 might just as well be light years away. That's the next time sky watchers will be treated to another a fantastic firestorm of meteoric fireworks like the Leonid meteor showers that just visited us.
Thanks to my fine-tuned hearing, I didn't miss a thing. They say other senses sharpen when one sense fails. My hearing has always been keen: I can even hear white noise. But for a while the other night, my hearing was dulled as a vaporizer droned on in my bedroom. I don't have a baby, just a bad cold. Tired of the background sound, I snapped off the machine and lay in my bed, hoping for a little sleep. In the quiet, I sensed movement outside and heard a subtle rattle and clack. It was exactly 4am.
Curious, I ventured out on the deck to find four wide eyes belonging to two startled raccoons staring back at me. Their hands were in the till - or rather, the bird feeder. Wide awake after shooing off the raccoons, I remembered the meteor showers.
The night was moonless: calm and bright. The Milky Way filled the heavens. Planets I've only dreamed of took their momentary positions. (Do you remember the difference? Stars twinkle, planets don't.) With bare feet on a cold deck in the middle of the night, I waited.
Oh, the celestial thoughts that came to me: My cousin Billy's room when we were small. The ceiling painted midnight blue and covered with stars. The Fourth Avenue Theater in Anchorage, Alaska, that ceiling memorable too. In the darkened theater, the Big Dipper cast its glow on the double seat in the balcony that teenage couples always scrambled for.
Night thoughts raced on. Crawling out of a camp tent along the Denali Highway, rubbing my eyes to be certain of the sight: the pulsating aurora illuminating the sky. My brother sitting at the window of my Bayview home, watching neighborhood activities on the Fourth of July: his last earthly fireworks. Now he owns the skies. Lying on the screen porch at my Aunt Mary's cottage on the Patuxent River and seeing falling stars. Only kids get to see falling stars.
Phoning home from Air Force I while winging my way north to Alaska on a night the pilot proclaimed, "visibility unlimited." Mom says, "your Dad's asleep in his chair." The next day, Dad tells all his friends he talked to his daughter from aboard the president's plane.
A light comes on in the window of my neighbor Joe's house, signaling the end of the great balls of fire falling from the heavens. It's getting light. We won't see another meteor shower like this.
The truth is, I didn't see a single streaking meteor, much less a meteor storm. But I did think thoughts large and small on a moonless night when all was calm, all was bright. Maybe it was just my cold or my bare feet on the deck outside that brought on the need on that starry night to phone home to the store of heavenly memories that rest deep within all of us.
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Volume VI Number 47
Nov. 26 - Dec. 2, 1998
New Bay Times
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