Well, last night was a real disappointment. The headline to the article that inspired me–to set my alarm for 1:30 a.m. this morning, wake from a sweet-dream-deep-sleep, drag myself out of my warm bed and go out into the frigid night–had read “Strong Quadrantid Meteor Shower, One of 2012’s Best.” Two words in the headline flashed like a neon sign: STRONG and BEST.
At 1:30 a.m., I pounded the alarm off and threw back my covers, then put on my bathrobe and wrapped myself in two blankets and headed outside. I was filled with anticipation, remembering a “strong” meteor shower I’d seen in my teens. I’d been awed by the majesty and beauty of one star after another streaking across the sky and over the horizon and remember feeling like an insignificant being in the universe. (Something I think it’s good for all of us to feel at times.)
Okay, I’ll admit it. I always make a wish on a shooting star, too. How could I not, when one of my favorite songs as a child was Jiminy Cricket’s When You Wish Upon A Star?
I figured if this Quadrantid meteor shower was going to be strong, well, heck, I’d get to make dozens of wishes. What a way to start the New Year, right?
So, I looked. And looked. And searched. And searched. And froze. Nothing. For a half an hour.
I started to go back inside, cursing the astronomers who made such a disappointing promise. Yet I still looked up at the sky, lest I miss even a single star.
And there it was. Streaking across the western sky. A single bright light followed by an impossibly long tail, appearing on its heavenly stage just long enough for me to make a wish.
Author intrusion note: Sorry, I can’t tell you what my wish was. Mom always told me if I disclosed that little secret, it wouldn’t come true.
Well, feeling wish-greedy, I stayed out for fifteen more minutes, looking and searching. Nothing.
But, I did enjoy the sound of the wind in the trees, the tinkling of wind chimes, the clicking of leaves blowing across the yard, even Michel, our rooster, revving up with a cock-a-doodle here and there, preparing for morning. I marveled at all the twinkling stars against the dark sky and wondered what was going on way up there in the very big universe.
Then, I gave up and snuggled back into my warm bed and quickly fell back to sleep. I dreamed of the most spectacular meteor shower, with enough shooting stars to fulfill the wish of every person who had a wish to wish upon a star.
I woke again at 6:00 this morning, grateful for the continued darkness. Again, I donned my bathrobe and two blankets and went outside to see if any shooting stars from my dream had spilled over into morning. Within a minute I saw a flash across the sky. Another wish.
I listened to early morning sounds as I walked to the other side of the deck to see the sunrise. Michel-the-Rooster waking the world, a crow cawing, Spookie and Spade meowing that it’s time for breakfast.
And as I watched the sunrise, there was another shooting star, just above the horizon, in the darkness that the sunlight had not yet touched. My third wish.
That’s when it struck me. Though the “strong” Quandrantid shower may have been a disappointment, the experience certainly was not. To sit with enough quiet to enjoy the night sounds, the morning sounds, to watch stars twinkle in the heavens and to see enough shooting stars to make three wishes . . . how could I ask for more?