Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Very First Time ...

... to see a "shooting star" and falling meteor!  A couple of  weeks ago, I was alerted by my dear friend that the Perseids meteor showers were to peak that night starting around 11 p.m. "Look in the northeast sky", he added.  "OK!", I replied with my utmost semi-feigned gusto.  It wasn't that I didn't care to see the meteors.  I definitely did care, but had tried again and again over the years, even lying on my back on a blanket on the bumpy floors of back porches, with mosquito repellent sprayed all over me -- gazing heavenward, for hours, but did not see any shooting stars. The disappointment went way back to when I was a kid and the other kids (especially my two older cousins) would exclaim, "Look .. I just saw one". "Me too, right over there"  And maybe they did see them, at least sometimes -- when they claimed to.  I admitted that, no, I hadn't seen anything happening in the sky.  Many times after that when I was alone, I looked upward thinking maybe a meteor might just be chancing by and not be put off by my standing there with my neck in achey stiff mode.  But to no avail :)

So when my friend joyfully announced that "tonight is the night, starting around 11 p.m. in the northeast sky", I just couldn't drop the ball on his enthusiasm.  And so I mainly did it for him.  At 11 p.m. I went outside with my dog, Dixie Lee in tow (might as well take care of the dog-walk at the same time), and then she and I stood next to the fence so I could have something to lean on.  To the northeast there was a convenient gap in the trees, which was nice and made viewing much easier.  Soon Dixie started getting fidgety because we were standing still and she wanted to go sniff for rabbit trails; I held my ground and said "we are going to stay right here for five more minutes".  I could feel the tears stinging at the back of my eyes. Then somewhere between nine and twelve minutes after 11 o'clock I said "OK, I guess we might as well go in now".  And as I haltingly prepared to take my eyes off the sky, suddenly a magnificent object came bounding, bursting, hurtling out of the northeast sky, making a semi-arc and trail of magical light in sort of an east-to-north direction.  There is simply no way for me to articulate the feeling in my chest and gut -- those moments were so thrilling and amazing -- they brought laughter and tears of joy.  It felt like it was MY meteor with my name on it (excuse my ego, please), MY shooting star!  I mean I've waited all these 5411 years to experience it!   :)

Very memorable.  Aside from true love, there is absolutely nothing as wondrous and awesome as Nature and the Cosmos!   

End Of Summer Blues and Some Quirky Stuff ...

When I lived in New England (most of the first half of my life), summer arrived around June 1st; you could plant things a little before that but the risk for a late killing frost was real.  So by end of June people were enjoying their pools and starting to go to local beaches.  "Real summer", though, was July and August.  The first week of of August was very hot and humid and most people then did not have central air conditioning.  After the August heat wave, came those end of summer blues because the days were numbered and cold weather could blow in at any time after the arrival of September.  I remember one day during the first week of September when the kids all stood at the school bus stop wearing parkas.  That was a rare occurrence, but the icy wind and cold temps were very real that day.

For me, ever the herbalist and gardener, seeing my plants suffer and die with the cold was very sad.  Often I'd dig some of them up and bring them into the house, where, of course, they could not survive -- being outdoor plants.  I would go outside with blankets and towels and cover my marigolds and zinnias each evening until the mother of all frosts would come and get them even through the covers.

In earlier years (childhood) my end of summer blues were about having to return to school and lose my carefree nature hikes, wild berry picking, tree-climbing, and unlimited time with my piano, Estey.  Estey was a used upright that  my mother bought  for me when I was seven or eight years old. He was my most constant and faithful companion for years and years.  I still think of Estey.  Later on, he came to live in the finished basement of my first home during my first marriage.  When the time came for the marriage to end, I was unable to get Estey out through the doorway and basement hatchway (and was given an arbitrary 12 hours in which to do it). I didn't know who to call and then was told that Estey had been cut up ... and removed in that fashion. God bless you, Estey, wherever your splinters lie. And I apologize for getting off-topic -- mainly because I want to celebrate the beauty and joy that summer represents.   

Well anyway, I look at the sweet, innocent faces of my orangey-red zinnias that planted themselves this Spring from last years dropped zinnia plant seeds. The seeds managed to survive the harsh winter freezes.  How beautiful they are ... and trusting. They seem to say "don't worry, be happy"!.  I'll put up a picture of the first one that emerged during July which is kind of late for seeds to sprout.   And, yes, I will cover them if need be as the weeks march onward.

Earlier this summer, my friend gave me two Sorghum plants.  He had, at first, though he had a rogue corn plant growing in his yard but then the plant developed an oval-shaped large seed head at its top and then he found two more sorghums.  The birds love the seeds.  It turns out the sorghum is a valued plant in many parts of the world where food products are made from it   A couple of weeks after he gave me the sorghums which I planted in a pot placed on the east side of my house, I discovered what I thought was another full-grown sorghum under a tree on the west side of my house. Soon, though, it started growing a little tassel on top instead of a seed head and then I noticed a small but very real "ear" growing midway up the plant. Could this be a corn plant?  A week or so farther along and the "ear" seems semi-hollow, but most startling of all -- there are now bristly hairs growing outward on all the vertical stems, including the main stalk.  It looks spooky and humorous.  I took a picture and will put up the one that focuses on the hairs, as well as one that shows the whole plant earlier.

Yes, the end-of-summer-blues.  It seems so recent that I was scraping ice and snow off of the truck and driveway .. and picking up broken tree limbs. For me, time seems to be on fast-forward.  I try to remember that wise advice to "savor each moment".  I'll squeeze as much summer out of the weeks (and months) ahead.  Summer isn't over just because school starts. Especially here in the south, we can keep the spirit of summer going for quite a long time :)