Article originally published in June 2015 Her Family.
Clouds can be real jerks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for them when playing a lazy afternoon game of scanning the skies for accidental compositions that bear a resemblance to a fluffy elephant, indian chief, or bunny rabbit.
And to be fair, vapors of the cirrus variety are innocent enough. What’s there not to like about the diaphanous tendrils of these angelic waifs of the cloud world? No, it’s those bulbous, low-hanging cumuli (derived from the Latin for “poopie head,” if I remember correctly) that are the real troublemakers.
These bad boys of the ethers demon-strated their bratty stubbornness on a recent camping trip with my preschool-age grandsons, Barrett and Easton. The plan was that a campfire soiree would yield to a bit of sleepy-eyed stargazing. With star chart in hand, I’d be champing at the bit to regale the boys in a constellation-by-constellation exploration of the heavens. Oh, what celestial beauties awaited! Orion! Ursa Major! And (all together now) Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!”
But a thick blanket hung and pelted us with seven hours of continuous rain through the shank of the day. Like I said, clouds can be real jerks. As if to further taunt us, they receded to reveal a canopy of stars only after the kids were tucked away in their sleeping bags.
So for now I’ll have to settle for stargazing of the indoor variety, the kind that had occurred a few weeks earlier in a visit to The Rose children’s theater. The gloriously gaudy space is a visual treat in itself, but leave it to a small child to be swept away by the simplest of sights. Midway through the play I noticed out of the corner of my eye that 5-year-old Easton wasn’t paying attention to the actors. Instead, he was craning his neck skyward. The production called for a dragon-shaped constellation to be projected on the ceiling. Overhead was a slow-motion parade of stars drifting across the vault of the majestic theater; a mesmerizing star field watching over starlets on the stage below.
The look on Easton’s face was one of awe-filled wonder. It was as if he was chewing up the entire cosmos and digesting it in one big intergalactic gulp. All I could do for what seemed an eternity was to observe the observer, combining the viewer and the view. If only I could have bottled the look in his eyes to make it last a lifetime.
Sure, it was an experience that I had hoped to capture under real stars, but grandpas can’t be too choosy. There will be other camping trips, other starry nights. For now I’ll just have to soak up the magic whenever and wherever it comes.