Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another Ethan first: He found the Big Dipper.

It was a perfect celestial autumn evening: cool, calm, not a cloud in the sky, and the half moon tucked safely below the horizon, which was a soft blue gradient in the afterglow of the set sun. Ethan spotted the first star, then more stars, as we lay atop his backyard play set. Slowly, the sky filled with them.

I carried Ethan along the meadow path, the street lights and lights from neighbors’ windows hidden by the tree line. We heard geese honking in the river and saw an occasional gaggle fly overhead. As we approached, we could make out their shape against the glowing horizon’s reflection on the water, until finally, with a step too close and an ill-timed crouch, the shadows fled as we heard the stirring water, flapping wings, and excited calls.

In the ensuing quiet, we took in the now fuller sky – its brilliant stars, its red planet twinkling lustrously, along the horizon chasing after the sun. We even saw the occasional moving star, blinking red and white –airplanes, as Ethan learned.

In the north, hanging low like a ladle of cream sufficient to satisfy every kitten that could possibly be hiding in the sky, was the Big Dipper. It stood out bright and bold as I showed Ethan the handle and the cup. The seven points of light in the sky were clear to Ethan like a picture in a story book. Later, when we were walking up the back yard, I asked him if he could show me the Big Dipper. First, he pointed randomly at the sky. I said, no, find the Big Dipper in sky. He searched around, and just has I had pointed out the famous asterism 15 minutes earlier, this time, he pointed it out to me.