|Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz |
host "Slice of Life" on their
When we went to sleep earlier that night, clouds covered the sky and the gusting wind was causing the tent to shake violently. Thankfully, climbing the dunes had tired out my wife, my almost three-year-old daughter, and me, so we fell asleep as darkness descended.
As I fumbled for my glasses, a shirt and the zipper to the tent, I noticed the wind was still. There is a certain feeling that a clear sky evokes on one’s senses while camping. I tried to quickly but quietly unzip the tent, my anticipation of the night sky and my own natural needs, competing in their urgency for me to hurry. Emerging from the rain fly, I was greeted with one of the finest bejeweled skies I’ve ever witnessed. The moon was absent, and the starlight was bright enough to create silhouettes of the campsite, trees, bushes, and the sand dunes off in the distance. It seemed that I could see each planet, star, galaxy, quasar, and satellite above me. The Milky Way was spilled across the shimmering blackness and while I was being reminded of how insignificant I was, I rejoiced in remembering how significant the true nighttime sky is to me.
After attending to my original reason for getting up, I stood outside the tent gazing upwards. I only lasted a couple of minutes before I started shivering but I enjoyed the moment and realized that this was the first thing I saw on my thirty-eighth birthday. Only a shooting star to wish upon could make this moment better. The only movement I saw was a satellite cruising across the sky, so faint I could only see it if I didn’t look right at it. That was good enough for me and I put out a wish for my next year and a thanks for this moment to the universe, nature, God.
Slipping as quietly as possible back into the tent and my sleeping bag, I was still in awe of the moment. My wife sleepily rolled over and said, “Happy Birthday Honey,” and patted my shoulder as she reached across our daughter, snuggled deep in her bag between us. I almost believed she somehow set up the past few minutes as a wonderful gift; she is that good. Warmth crept towards my frozen feet and sleep pulled at my eyes. Although I'm getting older, with a few grey hairs showing at my temples and some extra pains the morning after a night of camping, the visions of that sky let me know, this is going to be a good year.