Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meteor Shower

I stayed up until four this morning just to see the meteor shower. Crazy? Yes, perhaps (Jasper certainly thought so - poor thing kept looking longingly towards my bedroom). However, I have always wanted to see one, and I always manage to miss them whenever I'm fortunate enough to hear about one in advance. So, with considerable help from Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, Rosalind Russell, and Robert Cummings ("old, dead movie stars that no one but Stephanie cares about," as my mother would eloquently explain were she here, although she'd be wrong about Olivia, who celebrated her ninety-third birthday this year), I managed to keep awake until the optimal viewing time. Poor Jasper could barely drag himself outside when the grand moment came, but I knew that he would cry if I left him inside.

I made two mistakes when I went out to watch the show the heavens had prepared for my benefit - I borrowed Dad's shoes (mine fit a little tight over slipper socks, and I didn't want to waste time getting different socks on), and I went out in a sweatshirt and no Michigan, in November. I did a bit of artistic stumbling on my way to the backyard, but eventually I triumphed over the hindrances of pitch darkness, my own klutziness, and Dad's enormous shoes (had I any ambition to become a professional clown, I probably could have filmed that segment and sent it into Ring Ling Brothers as an audition tape). Then I stood in the backyard and froze nearly to death, while gazing in silent awe at the luminous stars; and gasping with delight each time I spotted a meteor. Jasper amused himself by ignoring the resplendent display overhead and instead focusing on sniffing each individual blade of grass in the backyard.

In total, I saw six meteors for certain, but possibly saw more (it was hard to tell if several distant streaks of light were actually meteors or just my eyes doing odd things from staring too long at stars. I also had fun seeing how many constellations I could recall and find from my college astronomy class. After thoroughly chilling myself to the bone and doing a few more pratfalls, I went in to change into my own shoes and grab a coat and gloves. I only stayed out for another five minutes after that, as Mr. Sandman had tired of subtlety by this point and was now pelting me with his soporific sand. I fell asleep soon after hitting the pillow, my mind still lingering on the silent, mystic beauty I had been privileged to behold.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"