Looking up to the sky

Staying up through the night has advantages and can make you appreciate even more what you normally take for granted —, particularly when asleep.

Tonight's wandering around my neighborhood was a fine example.

In doing some family history research into the late hours, I came across a news item about the yearly Perseids Meteor Shower that typically peaks around this time in August.

So always being curious about the larger world we live in, I decided to see what could be seen outside in the night sky.

A Google search tells me that the Perseid meteor shower's been observed for ~2,000 years, with the earliest information coming from the Far East and some Catholics referring to this event as the "Tears of St. Lawrence." That was because this shower peaks between Aug. 9-14, and coincides perfectly with that saint's martyrdom.

Sadly, my eyes are shedding their own tears of not seeing St. Lawrence's tributary shower tonight. At least, I don't think so. To my disappointment, I realized that even our 10-mile distance from Indianapolis isn't far enough to provide that crystal-clear night sky that was so wonderfully magical in northern Michigan about a month ago. The adjacent distribution plant that radiates bright light doesn't help, either.

But still, looking northeast, the sky is darker and more stars can be seen. I took a nighttime walk n the community, with the dog by my side.

We learned:

  • Neighbors are typically not outside at this time of night.
  • Geese do wander and seem more confident in the darkness to flap at you and your dog.
  • Some people haven't grasped the idea of headlights, nor safe speeds for night-time cruising.
  • Garages aren't always shut, which can be a Neighborhood Watch issue I'll need to remind people about.
  • It's much easier to trip over hazards you don't realize are sneaking up on you, including holes and shrubs and rocks and children's toys left outside after the sunset.
  • Also, can say with confidence: My house is situated on a flight path. Without a doubt. A half dozen planes flew directly overhead like clockwork, once right after another it seemed in the darkened night sky where minutes passed like hours. Had one fallen from the sky above, it would've landed in my backyard. Luckily, that didn't happen. But it's good to know.

While the main goal of meteor viewing didn't materialize, at least it was a productive and eventual adventure.

The dog and I got some late-night exercise. I got a look at the nighttime happenings in our community, which is important when you're heading up the Neighborhood Watch.

And most importantly, the opportunity for self-reflection and larger-than-yourself contemplation as intellectually stimulating. The kind of experience you wish could happen more often, in the normal hours of the day.

Doing that every once in a while lets you realize that we're all connected to something much bigger and that the same people who once walked this Earth in a different time could have been looking up just as the same as you were — from their homefronts in whatever part of the world they resided. Maybe, they were counting the stars in the sky and the nighttime happenings around them.

It's almost poetic, how time fits together like a puzzle. We just have to put it together. With, of course, the help of some coffee after a long night's nurturing of the mind and soul.

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