(I’ve been siting on this post for a couple of weeks, sorry guys.)
On the first coolish, dry evening signalling summer drawing to a close, I decided to celebrate. Usually, I head out to go camping in October to usher in the beginning of fall. The kids, parents and I will take off for Robbers Cave State Park and I’ll pitch a tent by the creek while they stay in a cabin…or a hotel room. (Our idea of camping…differs.) This year that’s not happening. (I blame the horse that threw my nephew last year…and the lack of cell phone service and wi-fi.) I was already feeling the loss of a few days spent before a campfire on a cool evening just relaxing and enjoying…everything. Now it was still a bit too warm for the sweatshirt wearing, feet close enough to the flames to nearly melt the soles of my shoes, and eeking every possible smidgen of warmth from the fire possible kind of an evening. However, it was definitely cool enough for my capri pant and flip-flop wearing self to enjoy a bit of fire pit action as the sun set.
Typically, for a evening in front of the fire pit, I’ll call up some friends, run to the store pick up fixings for s’mores, and mix up some kind of adult beverages. This was not that kind of night. It was a revelation that not everything has to be planned, and if I felt like a fire…light a fire. (However, it could also have been a realization that I did not want to haul the branches and other lawn debris to the curb after I finished up the yard work, it’s pretty cool outside, and I live in Oklahoma…let’s burn it. ) Not a bad looking blaze if I do say so myself. (I have gotten a lot better at starting fires in recent years…not in a weird, arsony kind of way, but more in a I-don’t-need-lighter-fluid-to-get-a-campfire-started-anymore kind of way…I’m gonna stop talking about this now.) Fallen branches, tree trimmings and things cleared away, I could kick back and relax.
How best to do that other than a drink and some music. So, a cold adult beverage, a warm fire and The Clash gave me a chance to let the stress of the week go. I would love to say that I did all this with my loyal dog by my side, but, apparently, he’d decided that I was a crazy person for being so close to the flames. The coward hid in the corner of the yard for the evening. (Good to know I can count on him not to save me in case of a house fire.) In my neighborhood, there are a lot of kids, and I could hear them playing outside, trying to squeeze every single bit of daylight out of their Saturday before being called inside. Neighborhood dogs frantically barking at…whatever the neighborhood dogs actually bark at.
For a minute, I debated whether or not to call a friend to share in the loveliness, but I decided that would be too much work for the grass clippings covered, dirt on her knees, scraped knuckled girl that I was at that time. (Stupid sapling growing between the fences! I may be a little bitter. You know what an excellent remedy is for that kind of bitterness? Burning the sapling.) I was perfectly content to be alone with my thoughts and my music. I watched the sparks spiral up into the darkening sky, and the stars came out. That just topped everything.
Until nights like this, I forget to look up as often as I should. I’m amazed by the number of stars visible, even from a city like Tulsa. Every. Single. Time. Astronomy and I never could get along well, and I can’t find most constellations even if you paid me. (They never actually look like bears or scorpions or…whatever.) Since I can’t find traditional pictures, I make up my own. No one else is likely to ever see them, and I wouldn’t be able to find them again if I go looking. They’re just stories for tonight.
When I’m out camping, the night sky is flooded with stars. There are so many that I can’t even create my own constellations. All I am capable of doing is staring in awe of how big it all is, and it always puts me in mind of a quote by Carl Sagan.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” ― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
Wow, apparently I don’t even have to be outside by the fire, looking up at the stars to get all philosophical. Maybe I just need to remember to look up more.
‘Til next time,
- Quote of the moment: Carl Sagan, on perspective on our own lives (timpanogos.wordpress.com)