favorite things 9: skygazing

It’s Tuesday, so maybe I should stop referring to this occasional series as “Wednesday Favorites,” I don’t know. Whatever. Let’s do this.


Is there anyone who doesn’t really love looking at the sky? It’s always beautiful, always changing, excepting perhaps days like today when it appears as a soft, flat gray — will it be rainy? will it just be… gray? — but for the most part, there’s always something to see. I appreciate that. Looking up, just for a moment, can often be quite dazzling. Everybody needs a little dazzle once in awhile.

I have a few favorite memories of looking up at the sky. These memories all seem to involve stars, and I’ll probably even write about them pretty soon, because they belong here, I suppose, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is or what the sky looks like. Serene and blue, gathering storm, catching fire at sunrise or sunset (I tend to appreciate sunsets more, just because I don’t actually like being awake before sunrise), sparkling with stars, it always makes me smile a bit. Or sometimes it makes my mouth drop open in wonder. I told myself once back when I younger, never to allow myself to become so cynical that I couldn’t just be completely stunned into silent awe by things, and though I often end up ignoring my advice to myself, I have managed to hang onto this. Letting yourself be astounded is good for you every once in awhile.

Actually, right around the time that I gave this bit of instruction to myself, I was in Germany, staying in a small town called Boizenburg, which wasn’t too terribly far away from Hamburg. One night we all went to the fair in Hamburg, and it was cold, late November. I don’t remember if I was getting over being sick or coming down with something or what, but I do remember a bit with mulled wine and “This will make you feel better,” and “Shit, guys, this is strong” and then riding something akin to a Tilt-A-Whirl and giggling my head off. I remember the return drive to Boizenburg, sitting in the back of that tiny car with Melissa, our heads tilted back as far as they would go, watching the stars through the rear window as Melissa pointed out the different constellations and I tried to tell where she was pointing. And there was another night in New York in August, years ago now, when I was staying with Levi and Caryn, walking back to Levi’s place after an… interesting evening. I think it must’ve been around the time of the Perseid meteor shower. We stopped in this basketball court on the way back and watched for showering meteors for awhile, and then we got up and discovered we’d been lying in broken glass. So yeah, skygazing. Good times.

Just this weekend, I had an interesting moment. I saw a UFO! Probably not really. I mean, come on. But still, you guys, it was weird. More in a “Huh, that was odd,” sort of way, as opposed to “Aliens! We’re gonna DIE!” sort of way. FYI. It involved two slow-moving orange-red lights in the sky that were obviously traveling in formation, and they changed positions a couple of times, then one flickered and disappeared, sort of like a dying ember, and then the second one flew toward the spot where the first had flickered and disappeared, and proceeded to flicker and disappear. While I’m certain that there’s a perfectly logical explanation for the entire thing, I am mostly just glad that I got to see something entertaining while I stood there with the dog, waiting for the bat-sized moth flying around the door to fly somewhere else because moths give me the heebie jeebies. Seriously, that moth was freakishly large.

The above photo is of the moon. Obviously. I went to Saugatuck on Saturday, which, for those of you not hip to Michigan geography, is a town on Lake Michigan. I was thinking about how I should go to the lake more (and also I wonder if people’s definition of “the lake” changes depending on their location in the state) because it’s not that far or anything, but I don’t. I should, though. Anyway, other than discovering, on the way back, that there is a Waffle House in Michigan (I-94 exit 52 — see, I totally DID remember), which is amazing because I thought Waffle House only existed in the South and this goes a long way toward proving my theory that in several ways, Michigan is the South of the North, and also I wish I had some hash browns, and I’m not sure if I can rein in this sentence so maybe I’ll start over. Anyway, I was driving home, and I don’t know about you, but do you ever see the moon when it’s on the rise and it’s huge and low to the ground and orange and then you’re all “HOLY CRAP!” because that happens to me sometimes. I am endlessly fascinated by the moon, and I love looking at it, regardless of what phase it’s in, because it’s always so lovely. And as I was driving home and I saw it and had that “HOLY CRAP!” moment, I thought “I’m gonna take a picture of that.” Fortunately I had my camera with me. So I pulled over and found a spot in some dude’s cornfield and got attacked by vicious attack mosquitoes (both of my legs and feet, from mid-calf down, are covered in horrible, itchy bites) and took some photos. They weren’t that great, but eh, what the hell? And then I just stood there for awhile and watched the moonrise, while the sun kept setting behind me. In reality, it wasn’t quite as dark as it seems in the photo — I had to speed up the shutter because I didn’t have a tripod with me, but it was still dark. I love that time of day when you’re in the middle of east and west, and you can find yourself directly between sunset and moonrise. It’s spectacular in every direction.

I don’t know that I have some major point or anything, other than this: the sky — neat, huh? But I guess I’m just glad that I told myself not to lose that sense of wonder, because I’d hate it if I couldn’t just be amazed sometimes, simply amazed. Maybe the true favorite thing is the amazement and the sky is the most reliable vehicle for it. Either way, I love that crazy old sky. I do.


5 thoughts on “favorite things 9: skygazing

  1. I heart southwest lower Michigan, aka Michiana. You have no idea how close I was to moving back to St. Joe this summer. Actually, you do have an idea.


  2. I think I’ll never lose that feeling of awe and wonder that comes with seeing a gorgeous sunset or sunrise or the moon sitting fat on the horizon or huge foreboding thunderheads or most anything that is skyward.


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