In the wee hours on Friday morning, we sat outside and watched the Geminid meteor shower. It was a little cold (high 30s), but we wrapped up in blankets, lit the charcoal grill for some radiant heat, stretched out in our zero gravity deck chairs by the pool, and gazed upward. The chairs are positioned so our backs are to the Strip, some 20 miles to the north. To the south, the sky was dark and littered with twinkling stars. I quickly picked out Orion's Belt, the only constellation I can always find. Even before I could find the North Star and the few other constellations I can identify, a meteor shot through the sky.
I've meteor-watched before, but until we moved to the desert (land of incredibly clear night skies), meteor-watching was more a matter of "Was that one? I think I just saw one." Now, there's no mistaking them. I wouldn't say the sky was exactly alight with meteors, but we saw 20 or 30 of them in the space of a couple hours. Each one was beautiful and thrilling - and there's something so intriguing and romantic about the fact that we're only now seeing something that actually happened billions of years ago.
Glaciers in Alaska, meteors, the way cacti get all fat with stored water after it rains, geology, black holes, the space-time continuum - if there is a next life, I think I'll study science instead of liberal arts. I wasn't very interested in science when I was in high school and college in this life, although I did take not one, but two physiology courses at Michigan, the first one to fulfill a distribution requirement, the second because the first was just wonderful. But I am fascinated by science now, from giddy astrophysics to humble biology. It all has an orderliness, a sequential, consequential logic, but also a sort of explanatory magic.