I had to go outside and put the car windows up. So I trodded outside, barefoot as is my wont, and walked around my grandmother’s car and up to mine, avoiding as much as possible the pine needle-infested grass in the dark.
Yes, I’m a silly person.
There was a light breeze and, despite the house, it was quite dark outside. Not dark dark — I’ve seen it darker — but nicely dark. It was pleasant.
After putting the driver’s side window up and closing the Beetle’s moon roof, I walked to the end of the driveway — stepping, unfortunately, in a pile of pine needles that had been raked up long ago, leaving them dry and brittly — and there, I looked up.
The house faces roughly north, and looking to the west I made out the Big Dipper, hanging over the horizon. I ran the line at the end of the dipper’s ladle and made out the North Star.
I’d given my niece a few months ago a children’s book of an adventure Tweety (of Looney Toons fame) goes on with the North Star. Like Gerry Rafferty, the book thought that the North Star was “the brightest light that shines,” but Polaris is anything but that. Prominent, yes. But not especially bright.
More easterly, but still not far from the horizon, was Cassiopeia.
Just looking at the sky, constellation names came flooding back.
I tried to make out Draco, the dragon, who would have been mostly overhead, and failed utterly.
It’s easy enough to lose one’s self in the sky. I’d have made a horrible navigator in sailing days gone by; I’d have not the faintest idea of how to navigate by the stars.
On a darker night than this, I’d have felt like I could fall into space forever.
Instead, I just looked at the stars as though I’d not seen them in a long time.
Never lose that boyish wonder that space brings. Never.