Around 11:30 on a hot summer night in 2013, I accidentally saw my first meteor shower. We were in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, guiding a 21-day backpacking and canoeing trip for nine high school students. The teenagers were asleep, but me and my two co-guides still sat on the granite slope overlooking the lake, dining on caramelized onions and fresh bread baked in some coals. We had used up many lighter conversation topics in the previous two weeks, so this evening our talk moved to philosophy.
We were counting shooting stars as we discussed the meaning of life or friendship or whatever, but we halted our conversation after just a few minutes of stargazing. “This is a lot of shooting stars,” Joe said, “I just saw three at once.” We stared at the sky and saw several more in rapid succession.
“What month is it?” Lisa asked.
“Definitely August,” I replied.
“What day is it?” Lisa asked. There was a pause.
“Maybe the 10th?” Joe guessed. A humid breeze feathered across the lake and stirred up the coals of our fire. Two more shooting stars seemed to accelerate before they burned up.
“I think it’s the 11th,” Lisa concluded after some mental math. We accepted that it was, at least, definitely August. We watched the sky.
I drifted off to sleep for a few minutes before waking up to see a few more shooting stars. There was a pebble pushing into my left shoulder-blade. Lisa spoke up, “I think there might be a meteor shower that usually peaks in August.”
For myself, having grown up near the city of Seattle, it always seemed to be cloudy during exciting astronomical events. Watching a meteor shower had seemed like an unattainable idea, a hobby pursued by amateur astronomers who drove to the nearest desert with their telescopes a few times each year. I had never imagined that I’d simply accidentally see such an event. I was beginning realize that some of my favorite outdoor experiences were those I had never anticipated.
I woke up again and heard Lisa say, “I think it’s the Perseids.”
I stayed awake long enough for our talk to turn back toward work. We weren’t sure what to do the next day. The journey had been strange; our planned route hadn’t worked out. We were tired and stressed and uncertain. The teenagers were good people. Overhead, meteoroids blazed through the atmosphere at 130,000 miles per hour.
We were sleepy, so we went to bed.
Saeward Schillaci is a professional writer and editor. She is the founder of Northwoods Editing, which specializes in helping businesses create quality written content. Currently, Saeward lives on a permaculture farm near Menard, TX with an assortment of animals including humans, dogs, cats, chickens, feral peacocks, and armadillos. In her spare time, she enjoys canoeing, climbing, creative writing, swimming, and whittling.