Savor the Cosmos
I’ve been sorting through a lot of old things lately and came across a series of essays from 2003-2004. I thought they deserved to see the light.
I woke up confused to the incessant beeping of my alarm clock. The clock read three-thirty. It was dark, and for a minute, I couldn’t remember why on earth I’d set it. I ran to my window and saw stars through the tree branches. I ran down the hall and gently shook Mom away. “Let’s go,” I urged.
She rolled over, and after a long moment of deliberation, sat up and muttered, “Okay, let’s go.” We woke up my little brother Griffin, threw sweatshirts over our pajamas, and set out on a late-night adventure of a lifetime.
My science teacher told me the Geminoid Meteor Shower was scheduled to make an appearance in our corner of the world. It’s rare for the cosmos to be aligned to allow stargazers in northeast Ohio to experience galactic phenomena in the own back yards. Usually, comets, meteor showers, and the like are best seen from obscure islands in the South Pacific, where the only inhabitants are high-powered telescopes. The newspapers show breathtaking views of sights most people never see.
The notion of experiencing a meteor shower rolled around in my sleepy head as we drove to the beach. I noticed the parking lot was full as we turned off Lake Road. We weren’t the only ones who thought the serenity and obscurity of Lake Erie at night would make a superb backdrop for the show above. We spread out the old, blue moving blanket on a giant sandstone pier. I could feel the unevenness of the rock and felt the carvings of young boys professing their love for girls who must be all grown up by now. We lay silent and waited. The waves rolled in slowly at gentle, even intervals. Griffin lay between Mom and me. I could hear him breath; it was as if the water were somehow connected to our breathing. And then we saw one, and another, and another. Shooting stars were streaking across the clearest, most beautiful night I can recollect. The meteors came in series of two or three. When a particularly bright or sustained shooting star shot overhead, people all across the beach would gasp or point. I felt like I was watching nature’s fireworks on the most serene Fourth of July imaginable. A sense of camaraderie enveloped all the people crazy enough to wake up and watch the meteors. We knew that we were witnessing something special. The indistinguishable figures wrapped in blankets that dotted the dark beach dared this awe-inspiring experience. Several hours of lying on that old blue blanket are forever ingrained in my mind. When the first faint pink rays of sun scared all the beautiful stars away, we shook the sand off the blanket and headed back up the stairs to our car. The strangers we had bonded with offered knowing smiles as we passed As the rest of the world was on the brink of waking up, we were driving home in utter silence, absorbing the magnificence we had just witnessed. I knew that I would probably never experience a phenomenon like the Geminoid Meteor Shower again. Accepting the beauty that nature has to offer isn’t always convenience or practical, but that night on the beach it was well worth it.