Fire, Ice, And Fog

My husband has always been my guide to the heavens. I can’t even count how many times we’ve gazed up at the skies and he has introduced me to a constellation, a star or planet. At times, we’ve watched natural phenomenon, such as the aurora borealis, other times, he’s spotted a satellite, and once, we saw the space shuttle shining in the last rays of the setting sun as it passed overhead. In December, he was my escort to the Geminids meteor shower.

It was 18 degrees outside. I figured it for a two layer bottom (long undies, polar fleece pants) and three layer top (sweatshirt, fleece-lined hoodie, down-filled jacket) kind of night. Chris set up chairs in the driveway for us, and we settled in for the show at about 8:45 p.m. Websites about the meteor shower had predicted that the best viewing time would be from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., with a peak at about 2 a.m. There was a time in my life when MY peak time was about 2 a.m., but nowadays, I peak at around 4 p.m., and am heading downhill by about 10.

Chris saw the first streak just minutes after we sat down. Now we had an idea of where to look in the sky, but really, with meteor showers, you just never know where to look, so you try to “keep big eyes” on as much of the sky as you can. This caused us to slouch down in our chairs, leaning our heads back as far as we could. I commented that we really should get lounge chairs for this activity, and Chris suggested that we head into town right away to find some. I didn’t want to leave the show before it had even started, so we just stuck with our uncomfortable positions and watched the sky. Soon, we had each spotted smaller streaks and one large, green glow worm that had caused us to gasp and grab for each other, asking “Did you SEE that?”

Throughout our viewing, we were a little bothered by lights. We live in a mostly dark rural neighborhood, but there are some bright yard lights across the street, and car headlights shone in our eyes as they passed. We talked about other places where we have watched the skies and wondered if we should try for a darker location with a bigger view of the sky. Finally, after a long lull between meteors, we decided to explore some other options. Chris packed our chairs into the truck and we headed off down the road. He had one place in mind and I had another—for better or worse, my location won the toss, and he drove there. I hadn’t been there in quite awhile, and had forgotten that there were streetlights even on that lonely stretch of road, not to mention no safe places to park. Chris drove on until we were completely enveloped in fog. It was like driving into a garage—one minute, we could see the road and the sky, and in an instant, it all disappeared into darkness.

On the theory that the fog had appeared so fast, it was just as likely to be in a limited area and we could simply drive out of it, Chris continued on . . . and on. It was slow going, and I was a little panicked. We passed a well-lit farmhouse and I wanted nothing more than to pull into that driveway and wait for clear skies, no matter if it took all night. Chris is calm and steady at the wheel in all situations, no matter how nerve-wracking his wife finds the conditions. I was rapidly becoming a basket case, convinced that we were poking along through a farmer’s field, but Chris assured me that we were on pavement, headed for home and in minutes, we would arrive there safe and sound. We were only about a mile from home, but the landscape in fog was completely foreign to me. Finally, we came to a stop sign, indicating that we’d reached the highway, and a little farther down that road, the fog disappeared. The entire drive had probably taken no more than a half hour, but I felt drained from the strain of worrying.

I have no explanation for it, but on a night when the Hubbells wanted to see a pretty spectacular meteor shower, the entire area was fogged in, except for a half-mile circle of clear sky directly over our house. I guess it turns out that Dorothy was right, there really IS no place like home!

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