Friday, July 15, 2011

Every once in a million years

...or so it seems, an event occurs that makes ones common ordinary life magically extraordinary.  I happen to see these events as little miracles, in that I just happen to be in the right place, at the right time, under the right circumstances...a reward that keeps hope right up front in my life.

My nine month younger brother and I would take turns sleeping outside on the patio during the summer months, when I was around first or second grade age.  A made up bed waited for me, and you can guess by this that rain seldom was an issue we worried about in the middle of the desert at certain months of the year.  This was a regular single bed with a cheap mattress sitting on heavy wire mesh, you know, poor folk entertainment.

I waited until darkness before leaving the house in my pajamas to climb into that wonderful bed.  At that time the yard was still in its infancy, and being in a bed on the patio with a four foot high fence bordering the alleyway and baby trees and shrubs bordering the wide span of lawn on the other side by the street, well...I was like one postage stamp all by itself on an album page.  A grape vine covered trellis bordering the patio by the street side was the only camouflage available between me and the world.  The bed stuck out like a sore thumb, and I didn't care to be on display for whoever ventured down the alley or street.

Waking up late meant keeping my head covered up to escape detection, then making a mad dash across what seemed like a football field size patio...of course it wasn't; but when one doesn't want to be discovered in their jammies in the middle of the yard in broad daylight, one ejects herself out of that bed in two seconds flat and runs like crazy up the porch steps and through the back door...whew!

One night before climbing into that cozy bed, surrounded by that dry desert air that can turn quite chilly before morning, my gaze went across the street, over the top of the Brown's house, up the tall rounded peak of Mount Grant, and into that wonderful sky of a zillion stars, a sky that no city person has ever seen.

A huge bright red ball sliced through the darkness above the Brown's house and disappeared behind the homes at that edge of town before my running feet could get me to our front gate.  I looked down the street, but of course saw nothing; the meteor's decent took all of one second before becoming past tense.  No mention in the local weekly town was my very own brief light show...just for me.

Mom's love of the cosmos became my love of the cosmos.  She woke us little ones up at two in the morning once to trek outside in our sleepwear with flashlights in hand, then flashlights off as we viewed in silence a full eclipse of the moon.

Another time, in what was probably the only moment in recorded history for Nevada, we stood outside after dark and watched the faint edge of the northern lights over the top of Mount Grant.

Sometimes we would sit outside for hours on the patio and see how many shooting stars we could count if luck was with us that evening.  We learned to identify all of the constellations in the night sky above us for all of the seasons, and at one time the family even had a telescope, a Christmas present for all to view the planets, moon, and stars.

In my twenties, living the city life in Reno, I talked my husband at the time into driving me out into the country to see what was promised to be a fantastic meteor shower that evening.  The sky was half filled with clouds after the rain...we laid out on the top of the hood of our car...watched large white meteors playing hide and seek with the clouds, maybe a dozen per minute, arching clear across the sky with light trails illuminating behind the clouds.  I was in seventh heaven watching the heavens put on a heavenly light show.

In my late thirties living with present husband in Colorado Springs, the flight path to Paterson Air Force Base sometimes took jets quite low right over the top of our house when coming in for a landing.  One afternoon as I was trying to sneak up on a singing meadow lark perched on our side yard fence, I looked up to see a plane fly right over the top of me with the space shuttle attached to it piggy back.  That aircraft wasn't much larger than the space shuttle it carried...awesome...just awesome!  It was so close to the house top that I felt like I could have just reached out and touched it.

During my forties and my four year life in the tropics with husband, I hitched a ride with friends, to a small town up the Atlantic coast of Panama, the epicenter so to speak of the best viewing area of a total eclipse of the sun.  Husband worked...who in the hell works when there's a total eclipse of the sun to see???  I played could I possibly miss maybe my only chance in this lifetime of such an event!  From the horse's mouth so to speak, first of all, it does not get DARK.  The skies darkened, but I could still see everything.  The amazing part was all the thousands of birds flying in to roost in the trees around us for the night...fooled by the darkening skies.  As the skies began to lighten, all those confused birds flew out again to continue their day.

During my fifties, one of my favorite memories was the year of a great meteor shower.  We grabbed hats, gloves, scarves, coats, blankets, and pillows; and drove to the planetarium area of the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills.  It was COLD!  We froze our butts off!  No matter how many thicknesses of blankets one lays on cold hard concrete your backside is freezing and your body is stiffening.  We laid there most of the night with a bunch of fellow idiots, and watched a continuous light show of dozens of meteors a minute until around four in the morning, doing quite a bit of talking and shivering in between.  I think I got perhaps two hours sleep before heading out to the airport.  I know I definitely need people in my life that love all this craziness.

Most treasured occurrence of all, though, seeming so trivial in a way, but making the most impact in my life, has been my collection of letters and cards from dad brought about from his concern and love for me during my years in Panama.  I am the only one who possesses a group of his letters like this.  If I had stayed in the states, played it boring and safe, I wouldn't have all those letters to re-open and re-read during the quiet hours when I miss him most.  Every time I open one of his letters, he's with me once little miracle. 


  1. I love your outlook on life and you write so well. Always entertaining and interesting.

    Hugs, Sandra


  3. What a lovely post. I enjoyed everything about it! What a fulfilling life you've had thus far and what amazing things you have seen. The letters from your Dad must make it that much more special as well. Beautifully written!

    New follower from Boost My Blog Friday. Have a great, great day!

  4. That is great that you got to see all that.

  5. Oh, that is so sweet. Love the stories of your mom and dad.

  6. Im city bred but born in one tiny village of my I have the same outlook as yours, love the trees,the sky and camping by the beach near our village! It was such a beautiful story down memory lane, thank you for sharing!

  7. You are such a talented writer and what a gift to have letters from your dad. I remember watching a meteor shower once in Idaho, my brother and I laid in the back of a truck all night. Thanks for the memories.

  8. That was beautiful and I whelled up at the end. I wish my father had left me letters too. I adore the cosmos and I passionately want to see the Northern Lights. Meteor showers and stars are just wonders of the universe that I can't resist.
    What a fabulous post. Thank you.
    By the way as one of my favourite bloggers and regular followers I want to invite you to an on-line book launch party in September - games and fun. Prizes including a kindle. I can't get your ticket to you because I have no email for you. If you would like to be part of the event just let me know either on my blog or email me

  9. What a beautifully written post. I remember sleeping outside when I was little too. We lived in the country so there was no worries about anyone seeing me ;)
    I truly enjoyed reading your post and your wonderful adventures

  10. I love sleeping outside starring at the stars.

    The Space Shuttle piggy back -- had to be cool.

    I got a email from a friend a few years ago that told me the Space Shuttle would be crossing our sky at 8:32 pm on such-n-such date. Skeptical as I was, I was still curious enough to take the whole family out into the street at 8:32 to see if it would happen. By golly it did! We watched for about 10 seconds as a small, just barely could make it out, Space Shuttle passed over our next of the woods. It was the coolest "space event" I have ever seen.

    Great post Clipped.

  11. Great Story! I am a new follower! I would love it if you would check out my blog and become my newest follower! Have a great day!

  12. I agree with Stamping 4 Pleasure. You have a gift.
    "...meteor's decent took all of one second before becoming past tense"
    How visual and lyrical at the same time.
    What a great collection of memories.


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