Opinion

Hodge: Meteor shower lit up the sky

The term “camping under the stars” now inspires a much bigger meaning in my life following last weekend’s amazing display by Mother Nature.

My dear friend Curtis and I share an annual tradition of escaping for the busy world for a night or two during the summer on a fishing trip.

Neither of us professes to actually being either skilled or fanatical fishermen; however, both of us share a ginormous admiration and addiction to canoeing.

The idea of simply spending quiet time floating about on a lake is the main draw behind disappearing from the crazy life for the fishing trip.

Fish are not the focus —just the unnecessary justification.

For the past three years or so, despite our efforts with rod and reel, neither of us has had any success landing a lunker into our separate canoe.

The adventures, though, have been totally marvellous, relaxing, and inspiring—not to mention a great reminder of the value of friendship.

Last Sunday afternoon, Curtis and I packed up the canoes, camping gear, rods and other necessary fishing/camping amenities (steak, beer, etc.) and ventured our way up to Island Lake above Winfield.

Island Lake is part of the famous and popular Dee Lake chain of lakes.

To the locals, it is a well known tuck-away spot ranked highly for its escape ability factor.

We were fortunate to find a wonderful spot at the forestry campsite for tents and campers at Island Lake and made it our base for the next two evenings.

As luck would have it, Sunday was surmised by totally unpredictable and ever changing weather—with rain showers and thunderstorms, mixed in with sunshine and clear skies.

The increasing lightning (albeit far away at that point) drove us off the lake from a dusk attempt at chasing the elusive Rainbow Trout, and we scampered back to camp just in time to avoid a brief downpour.

It was simply a warm-up for the show that Mother Nature was about to provide.

As even better fortune would have it, Curtis and I had unknowingly planned our trip at the same time as the peak period for viewing the annual Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2,000 years and takes its name because the point from where the meteor showers appear to come (called a ‘radiant; by star know-it-alls like Curtis) is situated from within the constellation Persus.

According to Wikipedia, “the stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 133-year orbit. Most of the particles have been part of the cloud for around a thousand years.”

Regardless of the data —the next four or five hours of star gazing will never leave my brain.

Like young lads, Curtis and I sat fixated in our chairs; necks cranked uncomfortably backwards, and literally gazed up in the north sky as the most magical lightshow in the heavens took place.

The forked lightning turned into a plethora of sheet lightning and literally surrounding us in every compass direction, as the thunder began to roll in.

Despite the partly blocked sky due to clouds the star display from a campsite high up in the mountains away from the glow of city lights was truly spectacular. Perseid’s addition literally “put it over the top.”

As I watched the universe pass over, the boggling reality we have all felt about our world being a speck in the big picture engulfed me.

Suddenly, my many personal worries and fears dissipated for a time as the magnitude of our universe truly unfolded before my eyes.

After three hours or so the lightning disappeared and the skies opened up completely. Even after the major Perseid flurry was long over, Curtis and I remained visually glued to the skyline.

Somewhere around 2 a.m. we finally ventured off to sleeping bags.

The remainder of the trip was equally wonderful fun—we even caught a couple of fish for the first time in forever, not that it really mattered.

As we headed back home to reality, we verbally replayed the highlights of our fishing journey—nd there were many.

None of them, however, will likely linger in the memory banks for as long as the night we observed Mother Nature at her universal best.

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