When I was a Girl Scout Brownie (I still have my beret and dress and vest, with all my patches and pins and accomplishments), we spent what felt like forever but was probably only a long weekend at a local mountain camp. I wish I remembered more clearly where.
I hated most of the activities, because the summer mountains were buggy and I wasn’t terribly enamored with the rest of my group and, you know, I was generally a cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine, thanks.
But lo, one evening we got to ride horses, and got to ride them up this gently sloping trail to the top of a mountain, where, oh good gracious, telescopes had been set up. I thought they were having us on. Were we really going to get to hang out after dark and look at the sky? Oh yes. The cranky young lady who didn’t want to be in the sunshine exhaled and looked up.
It was the first time I saw Saturn.
In high school, I took a class called Wilderness Survival, and it’s precisely what it sounds like. We learned about surviving the wilderness, this class being capped off by a long weekend actually spent…oh hey, surviving the wilderness.
We went into the very snowy Rocky Mountains with our instructor, our backpacks, and our cross country skis. We had to sky into the back-country, to reach our tiny camp. We spent a lot of time skiing, in fact, and there was one flat trail that was safe enough to take at night.
One night, I went out with two classmates, and in the middle of the trail, we simply stopped skiing and threw ourselves to the snowy ground. We looked up. We saw forever, I’m pretty sure. That far from city lights, forever goes on a very long way.
It’s always been the stars for me and when I realized I wasn’t going to be an astronaut (this brain just never got the hang of the math — and let’s not linger on how I got a little queasy on the Star Trek Experience rides in Vegas, uh…), writing about the stars was second best. And now?
This summer, I’m going to the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, which is an amazing workshop given to writers and editors to increase science literacy. I’m going to learn a lot of things, and look through big telescopes, and ahhhhhhh.
I might burst with joy.