I probably should not do this, but coming down with a cold, and feeling lazy, I am going to repost an edited version of a post from earlier in the month. Changed some things around for the club newsletter. It is better than the first draft, things always are, but as for new content…
I am not a Vermonter, but I grew up in the sticks of Upstate New York, and while I am not an astrologist, I know my night sky fairly well. I remember as a kid going out on cold winter nights with a circular cardboard wheel with the constellations printed on it. My brother and I would stare with our necks cricked, trying to match the constellations my parents pointed at to our cardboard wheels. As I got older, stars lost their allure, but to this day, whenever I am out for a night run, I still find myself staring skyward.
There is truth in the oft said “the stars are brighter in the winter,” in that during the summer we are essentially looking at the Milky Way and the light from all those stars gives the sky a bit of a hazy look. In the winter there is no Milky Way to contend with. So when you combine the winter months with new moons and extra cold weather we have spectacular star gazing at hand.
If you can force yourself to recall the first three or four days of January, you will remember that vicious cold we had. While it sent some scurrying for the nearest treadmill, there were still a number of runners who decided to layer up and head outside. It was a tough battle to force myself outside when the thermometer read -8, but it beats running on the treadmill every time.
After the first ten minutes or so, I managed to warm up with the exception of my ears and face which remained frozen the whole time. The corners of my eyelids grew icicles and when I spit I could feel the spider web like tendrils of frozen saliva dancing on my cheeks. I can imagine I was quite the spectacle: some mix of lunatic, Yetti, and prison escapee.
Despite the freezing cold and discomfort, I was able to find some comfort and awe at the multitude of stars. There was a new moon on New Years so the sky was bright and it gave me something to take my mind off the task at hand. I, like most people, have seen a number of shooting stars, brief flashes of light seemingly plummeting to Earth or streaking across the sky, but for some reason, I am always looking for another.
Despite being an adult, there is still some magic in shooting stars. I do not make wishes anymore, but they still inspire some mystical awe that I was able to glimpse something that is so enormous, yet so ephemeral. On this frosty night I witnessed another shooting star, but this one was a little different. Instead of seeming to fall towards the Earth or streak across the sky, it shot up from the horizon like a sparkler being tossed into a warm Fourth of July night. It gave me pause, and I muttered some comment of amazement into the frozen air.
It was not a jaw dropping, meaning of life event, but it was definitely something that made me think. For thirty years, I always thought stars fell, after all, they are referred to as ‘falling stars.’ I was wrong, and this was just a simple reminder that even when I think I know something, I do not. There is always room to learn, from the most complex subjects to most basic and mundane. Sometimes running can provide the classroom, and other times it can be the teacher, but you will not find out unless you go to school.