And the Stars Danced
(A nostalgic recollection)
When my brothers and I were young, we were always watching the skies. Our mother led us in finding images in the clouds. Our father bought a couple of different high-powered telescopes from local science teachers to improve our view. As for my brothers and I, we were, simultaneously close to home and all across the universe.
On clear summer nights, we would set our lawn chairs up behind the long low farm-building which we called the garage. Out in that field, we had an unobstructed view of the night sky. On warm nights, we sat in our shorts and short sleeves and swatted mosquitoes as we gazed up and out. On cooler nights, we wrapped up in blankets and our small white faces reflected the silvery light of moon and stars.
Like so many other children on our beautiful green and blue earth, my younger brothers and I wished on falling stars. Our older brother gave us the scientific explanation.
“The star isn’t falling at all,” he would begin. Even in his youth, his explanations were clear and logical, but as he explained the rest of us fell back into the stars, leaving both gravity and logic behind.
We found constellations we recognized and made up stories for other star-patterns that we saw. Again, our older brother knew the science behind it all.
“Those stars aren’t really all grouped together,” he might begin, “It just appears that way from here.”
Letting him elaborate, we absorbed the science gently, as though through the pores of our skin. And then, we happily returned to mixing science and fantasy with fresh night air.
“When I was a man,” one younger brother might begin, pointing to an unknown constellation, “I rode that dragon to Alpha Centauri to rescue some settlers from Klingon Invasion.”
Yes, our star gazing was impacted by our favorite tv show, Star Trek, which we all watched together as a family. Even our science-minded older brother loved the made-for-television adventures of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. In fact, his logical approach to understanding the nature of things was modeled after his favorite character, Spock.
Fireflies, so plentiful in my youth, were a bonus, like stars fallen closer to the earth. In fact, my younger brothers and I reasoned, perhaps each of us was really a star fallen to earth.
“Well, actually,” my big brother would say, “We aren’t, but we are made of the same chemical components as the stars.”
“Close enough!” we agreed cheerfully, jumping up to spin and spin and spin, until we fell, dizzy and serene, to the ground. We would lay there for a long, long time, with the world whirling lazily around us, while crickets sang and the stars danced overhead.
Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you good memories and serenity.