I could not sleep the other night. And instead of doing all of the insomnia mitigation practices as usual, I threw on a bathrobe and headed outside.
The moment my bare feet hit the cooled off wooden deck, I saw a rush of something near my left eye and felt the fluttering hurry of a bat wing on my temple. While I know that Chiroptera share this landscape, it is rare to see them or to have an encounter. Especially an actual physical connection with one.
I then became distracted – well, mesmerized, really – by the vividness of constellations overhead.
White. Brilliant. Tangible. The sky had darkened just enough that the jewels on the midnight blanket streamed down – close, clear, consuming.
A meteor flashed across the northeastern sky and I giggled with delight – like a child charmed by the first sight of the season’s fireflies. Yet here it is again, season of the Perseids, and it took nagging insomnia to remind me.
It was for Neowise that I had been called to the nighttime outside of my cozy cottage a few nights ago. For a couple of weeks, I have been making repeated journeys to the northwest corner of sky to see the phenomenal, fat streak of chalk that is this visiting comet. I have looked with naked eyes. Through binoculars. In vain a few times, at a clouded-over evening. But always with awe at the ongoing wonders of the firmament. This recent night was no different; a bit higher overhead, but still it was the amazing comet - that suspended slash across the black curtain of midsummer.
I swiveled to the south and saw Jupiter and Saturn, bright as can be, side by side just below the tree line.
As I turned back toward the comet and Big Dipper, another swell of meteor arced across the western sky. Then another, and another … in all quadrants of the heavens.
With eyes still tilted aloft, I slowly backed into a deck chair and reclined. Face upward, enraptured by the glow of the beauty of this one Earth, these many planets, this Milky Way, these dazzling stars – I surrendered to the night. For some indefinable period, I meditated on the sky. I paused the wordless reverie just long enough to name the ISS as it flew high above. I caught my breath a few times more as meteor after meteor shook loose the last dusty detritus from my thought-riddled brain, leaving me just there.
And knowing that there is no saving that I can do at midnight, I simply savored.