August 12 in the Nebraska Sand Hills Watching the Perseids Meteor Shower
By Twyla Hansen
In the middle of rolling grasslands, away from lights,
a moonless night untethers its wild polka-dots,
the formations we can name competing for attention
in a twinkling and crowded sky-bowl.
Out from the corners, our eyes detect a maverick meteor,
a transient streak, and lying back toward midnight
on the heft of our car hood, all conversation blunted,
we were at once unnerved and somehow restored.
Out here, a furrow of spring-fed river threads
through ranches in the tens of thousands of acres.
Like cattle, we are powerless, by instinct can see
why early people trembled and deliberated the heavens.
Off in the distance those cattle make themselves known,
a bird song moves singular across the horizon.
Not yet 2:00, and bits of comet dust, the Perseids,
startle and skim the atmosphere like skipping stones.
In the leaden dark, we are utterly alone. As I rub the ridges
on the back of your hand, our love for all things warm
and pulsing crescendos toward dawn: this timeless awe,
your breath floating with mine upward into the stars.
I spent Friday morning working, but I got to have a fun, nostalgic early afternoon -- Maddy's mom's friend Alice took her to get a manicure and I took Alice's son Avery to lunch at the mall, where he ate McDonalds (current Happy Meal toys are imitation fitbit pedometers, which pleased him), caught Pokemon, and taught me how gym battles work. I had to take the van for work that really needed to get done that afternoon, and Adam had the car in College Park, so Avery gamely came to the Toyota dealership and walked back with me to the mall in high heat, catching Eevees all the way. It's just what Daniel would have done when he was that age.
We hung out at home for a while watching the Olympics (mostly soccer and track & field) while Adam and Christine (who rescued us by picking us up from the mall) plus another friend all ate lunch and hung out with Maddy, then the latter went ice skating with our next door neighbor's daughter, the friend went to babysit her brothers, Alice and Avery went home after the latter chased the cats everywhere, and the rest of us went to my parents' house for dinner. I posted my review of Voyager's "Scorpion, Part II" and we spent the late evening watching more swimming as well as Tara and Johnny covering Carnival. From The Science of Pixar at the Franklin Institute: