“Papa! May Joshua, Michaela, and I sleep outside on Tuesday night to watch the Geminid meteor shower?” I questioned eagerly, looking up from the November issue of Nature Friend where I had just learned of the exceptional celestial event.
Papa thought a bit. “Hmm. I think that might work!”
The three of us exchanged excited glances. This would be fun!
“I can’t wait!” Joshua exclaimed, trying to keep his voice to a whisper.
Five nights later, three heavily-bundled people huddled in blankets in the middle of our sprawling, grassy lawn, scanning the starry sky searchingly for a treasure—a treasure that forced us out of our warm home and cozy beds into the biting 30° F (-1° C) weather. The canopy of twinkling stars above us stabbed through the darkness like a zillion glinting knives….
Zoom! A streak of light bolted silently across the starry night sky.
Exclamations of “There’s one!” and “Did you see that?!” echoed through the night air.
“Wow! There are so many stars around the Little Dipper! Michaela exclaimed, removing the binoculars from her eyes.
“May I look through the binoculars?” I asked, reaching over to Michaela.
“Okay…” Michaela answered as she reluctantly handed the binoculars over to me.
“I found the Little Dipper too, and there are a bazillion stars around it!” I exclaimed breathlessly a bit later. “Wow…” My voice trailed off in complete wonder, as I sat awed at the amazingly magnificent display of night beauty. A soft wind blew, playing tricks with my brown hair.
“I just saw a meteor!” Michaela shouted, breaking the stillness.
Before long, excited shouts filled the air—it was impossible to see them all.
“When shall we have our marshmallow roast?” Joshua questioned for the third time. The fire for this “roast” was a small tea light in the center of a round of thin cardboard lined with bright red and orange crepe paper for the “flames.”
“We’ll have our roast at 9:15.” Michaela replied, trying to keep the excitement out her voice. “Nineteen minutes.”
I wonder just how many shooting stars we are going to see tonight?! I thought as another scintillating streak of light flashed in the corner of my eye, raising the count to eleven exceptionally large meteors.
“This is so much fun!” Michaela whispered.
“We should ask the Amish family down the road if we can use their field for the next meteor shower to enable us to have better visibility,” I stated.
“Yeah, I’m sure they would let us!” Michaela answered.
“I just saw one!” Joshua cried.
“Right over behind the pine tree!”
All eyes shifted to the sky behind the pine tree in hopes of receiving the rewarding glimpse of a fireball. I remembered reading in Nature Friend about the phenomenon of a fireball, and was eager to witness the treasure with my own eyes.
My thoughts drifted to a different time, this time in the frigid September air in a small mountain town in New Hampshire. My family had embarked on a journey to New Hampshire and Maine to sing for two churches. The friendly couple we were staying with invited us outside to enjoy the mountain air and watch the stars. “If you hear a kind of hooting sound while you’re out there, it’s probably a bear,” the man explained jovially. “Does anyone want to sleep out in a tent?”
Since I love adventure, I opted for the tent. We set up the tent, and then lay on a large quilt on the grass.
“Wow! Did you see that meteor?” Several people were talking at once.
“I wonder if there’s a meteor shower going on right now,” I wanted to know.
Everyone silently surveyed the Milky Way and the twinkling sky above them. What happened next is hard for most of the people who witnessed it to explain. A gargantuan fireball, half the size of the moon, whizzed across the sky. Probably the loudest shouts the town ever heard echoed through the mountains. Everyone was talking now. I was sorely disappointed I didn’t get to see it….
“There’s one!” Michaela shouted, and I snapped back to the present. I looked at my watch—9:07. Eight minutes until the roast.
Digging my feet deep into my sleeping bag until only my eyes were sticking out, I returned my gaze to the sky. Over the next ten minutes we spotted six more falling stars.
“Oh, wow! It’s 9:17!” Michaela exclaimed, rising from the ground. “Time for the marshmallow roast!”
As Joshua popped out from his sleeping bag, he could already almost taste the crunch of the chocolate graham cracker with a soft, fluffy marshmallow perched on top.
“This is SO much fun!” I exclaimed as I crunched on a cracker.
Five minutes later, snuggled deep past my head in my sleeping bag, I thought back over the events of the night. Fourteen large meteors. A cool wind. A tasty marshmallow roast. A wonderfully clear night sky. “Good night, everyone!’’ I murmured, then slipped into dreamland.