My eyes locked on the hot white streak in the sky in front of me. Saturday morning. Up before the birds, I was walking to the south. I couldn’t believe it: the streak grew into a fireball rimmed with brilliant emerald as it plummeted to earth somewhere to the south, hopefully in the desert.
I turned to an older couple struggling with their dogs behind me. “Did you see that?”
“The fireball. I think it was a meteor!” I practically shouted.
I looked back at the mountain over which it had streaked and back at the couple.
“No, we didn’t,” they said.
-image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
I hurried through my walk. I couldn’t wait to see what the all-knowing Google might reveal.
At first it showed nothing. I looked under “meteor, 11/2, my state, meteorite, fireball, firestorm, shooting star,” etc. Nothing. But in a few minutes lunarmeteroitehunters.blogspot.com had logged a sighting. Yes! I was indeed not alone! Other meteor-witnessing life forms existed on this planet.
The reports read:
7:00 AM 3-5 sec I was driving south, metor [sic] went from east (up) to west (down) white ball of fire with tail and small smoke tails, fire ball flashed bright blue 3 times looked like there was something solid in it. Moon I could look at it, kinda hurt eyes when it flashed. Not that I seen, it was bright sunny day with no clouds. looks like it might have landed in san tan mountains or north of them.
AM two seconds? Facing W, started N, stopped S. Neon green, yellow, blue. No sound. Sun simply amazing? Tail but had to tell very bright. Beautiful. Startingly bright, with tail speeding to it’s disappearance.
I was taken by the beauty in the language of the moment. “…white ball of fire with tail and small smoke tails” and “[s]tartingly bright.”
Certainly, the meteor witnesses and I, none of us woke this morning expecting to experience a meteor. I was breathless with the instant realization of what I’d seen and the glow of wonder it ignited inside.
Questions plagued me all day: What does a meteorite look like? Could this have been space debris instead of something natural? How often do these hit? And where? And what were the chances of picking up a lovely meteorite like this off the ground? And should you pick it up barehanded?
-image courtesy wikimedia commons
As the day moved forward, the blush from the morning meteor encounter faded. I felt rushed, harried, even though it was a Saturday. Suddenly everyone else needed my time and my list of writing, paper correcting, house cleaning, meal making and shopping flew out the window. Despite this the day turned out to be a nod to the kind of spontaneity I’ve not seen since before kids, but not before my husband and I found ourselves guilted into attending our daughter’s last swim meet.
Turns out it was a Lovely Day for a Motorcycle Ride
For some reason, I suggested we ride the motorcycle. My leg has mended enough to get on and off, and I thought, “Oh, why not.” After my daughter medaled in two events, my husband and I got back on the bike and decided at the last minute to head to the lake.
The sky was clear. The bike beckoned for opening up. The day suddenly seemed ours. We curved along backroads, leaving the city until we hit open desert and the road to the lake. Following its twists and turns I leaned toward the road and looked up at the mountains. The saguaros stood tall and thick like a forest. I’d never driven this before and felt alive with the discovery of something practically in my back yard. As we leaned around the last corner, the slate blue lake came into view with sailboats cutting at an angle across the wind-chopped surface.
I gasped. I hadn’t woken up expecting to see this either.
Over lunch my husband and I talked about the meteor. We’d both heard reports about Chris Hadfield, the singing astronaut and his book: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Apparently, Mr. Hadfield witnessed a number of meteors whizz by his space station. It made him realize how small not only the earth is, but how vulnerable and insignificant he and his fellow astronauts are hanging in a capsule.
The last surprise of the day came at bed time when I turned to Tian Dayton’s devotional Book I’d seemingly abandoned in my haste to get things done these last few months:
Today I will do what is in front of me. Rather than make my plan for the day on a formless future, I will do that task which is nearest to my hand. I cannot live in days that have not happened yet. As hard as I try, I cannot put my boots on and take a walk through the future. Life unfolds as it is meant to, and the life that I lead is subject to the laws of time. Time is actually a wonderful caring principle that gives me my life in manageable does. To understand and experience the depth of the moments – to taste the sweet that is in my hand—that is living. The rest will be provided for.
When I read the devotional scheduled for the day, I laughed. Ok. Ok. The universe has spoken. Clobbered me over the head. I’m listening. I’m watching. And, I hope to see many more meteors. But, what-oh-what to do with the to-do list?
Perhaps it needs a line for more meteor watching.
Have you experienced any natural phenomena that have changed your day or how you think about something?