The stars aligned in several ways during our recent stay on the New York/Canada border.
1. We got to see our friends Todd and Suzanne, whom we’ve known for nearly 30 years, and their children. Because they live in London, it’s not as if we can just drop in on them whenever we feel like it – and vice versa.
2. This tradition of meeting on the St. Lawrence River has been unbroken for at least 20 years, as our friends generously share their vacation home with us and others.
3. The weather was cool and crisp, a blessing after the never-ending heat wave Philadelphians have endured this summer.
4. Far away from light pollution, the starry starry nights were clear – and the Perseid meteor shower was on. Here’s how we found that out.
Ian, Hugh and Malcolm went out for a night swim one evening, and were gone so long that Chris got concerned and went out looking for them. I stayed in bed reading, then when Chris didn’t return, I got worried too. Throwing a sweatshirt on top of my PJ bottoms and flip flops, I joined the search.
In short order, I crossed paths with my menfolk, who told me they had been transfixed by meteor showers. As we all crunched along the gravel streets, I caught a falling star out of the corner of my eye – as clear as could be.
The next night, the five of us plus Suzanne went down to the dock and settled in, flat on our backs. As we stared at the sky above, talking softly, the water slapped gently below. The boys weren’t texting or paying attention to their phones or iPods. There was absolutely no man-made technology on this adventure. Everyone’s attention was riveted on the night sky, and on drifting in and out of the conversation.
In one hour, with their perfect vision, the boys saw more than 30 meteorites. We adults caught 10 brief streaks for sure, plus two magnificent blinding white show-stoppers that raced for an eternity in the shooting-star world across the blackness. Everyone gasped and clapped at once.
Reflecting on this experience later, I realized that I have reached the point where I never need to see another fireworks show ever again, thank you. I’ve seen those numerous times, I know what they’re like, and I know how they happen.
But the Perseides? Pure magic. In describing them, I would have to break my own rule and use the word “awesome.” In its original sense. Obviously.