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Catch A Falling Star

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

A few nights ago Owen and I were walking around the front yard in the dark, hard dark -- no visible moon or stars because of the cloud cover. It's one of our favorite things to do. The heat of the day had dissipated and all the things I didn't get done that I'd promised myself I would get done had been moved to the to-do list for the next day.

Owen can see better than I can in the dark and he often dashes off into the blackness like a greyhound after a mechanical rabbit. He always returns panting heavily and with his tongue dangling from the side of his mouth, looking up at me eager to receive a congratulatory pat on the head.

On this particular night he had not yet found something to chase and was walking so close to me that our legs often entangled each other. I had just looked down to maintain my balance when I saw a flash of light in the western sky. It was gone as quickly as it came, a blazing dart lost in the distant stand of pine trees.

It was, of course, a shooting star, a meteor. I stood for a long time looking at the darkness from which it had fallen, entranced by what is nothing more than bits of dirt and rock falling into Earth's atmosphere and burning up. I remembered one night on the beach at St. Simon's when a flurry of shooting stars lit up the sky over the darkness of the ocean. Like all magical moments, it was brief.

I'd forgotten, when I saw the single shooting star over Sandhill, that the Perseid meteor shower was due to appear. I hadn't forgotten that it was July, that August was on the horizon, but I hadn't felt it. This summer has been hot and dry, like pretty much every summer in south Georgia, but the events, the activities, the gatherings that make summer summer have been absent. I guess there was something in my subconscious that assumed even the Perseid would be distancing itself.

I am so glad that my instinctual presumption was wrong. I am so glad that there are forces and structures beyond this single pandemic-ridden planet. I am so, so glad that my forgetting something doesn't eliminate its existence.

The American Meteor Society says that the height of the Perseid shower will be August 11 through 13. I intend to be outside, to be staring into the possibility of another reminder that the operation of the universe is not and never will be dependent on me or my memory.

Copyright 2020

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