Counting Stars

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Last night, as darkness fell, we drove away from the Isham home in Fall Creek.

“Can we go stargazing?” Ruby asked.

Immediately, all I could think of was staying up later (yawn!) and mosquitoes. I didn’t want to get bitten again. I figured I would bow out and let the night owls get after it. I know I don’t do well on little sleep, and I don’t sleep in well.

We put Ruby to bed for about 90 minutes. Then I got sucked into watching some TV with Zac and Jonathon. “The Office”, to be precise. Yes, we’re late to the party. But what a party! We looked up and it was 11:00. I rousted Ruby from her bed.

“Just a couple of minutes,” she said, groggy. She closed her eyes.

Uh oh.

“We’re leaving now,” I insisted.

She got up. We left Zac to mind the fort and headed out. Jonathon drove us out of Sun Prairie. We passed the highway interchange. We drove until the city lights disappeared. We found ourselves on a little road marked only with a numbered reflector. The waxing gibbous moon poured down on us.

“Might not see much, Ruby,” I said, trying to temper expectations. “The moon will outshine most stars.”

Jonathon pointed out Mars, visible from Ruby’s passenger window. Ruby and I stepped out of the car. A creek burbled on my right. Insects chirped and squeaked in the meadow. Everything else sat silent and still, save the insect chorus and creek chatter. Stars appeared, gleaming above us. We stopped and gazed. If fireflies blinked around us, we didn’t notice. I picked out the Big Dipper, the only constellation I remembered and recognized. We turned around and around, just looking. A fog rose off the fields, silvered in the moonlight. A peace filled us.

As we drove back to Sun Prairie, Ruby continued to keep an eye on the stars with her window rolled down. The aroma of fresh baked bread from a nearby factory rolled over us. The town lights got brighter, more regular. We found our way home.

I don’t want to lose wonder. Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we forget to look around. Moments pass. Children grow up. I’m grateful not to have missed the moment.

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