As a child I used to enjoy stargazing (this was back in the days when there was so little pollution that you could actually see stars in the sky at night, kids!), and my father shared and encouraged this interest. He and I would walk out to the end of our garden in the evening with my little book of constellations and see what we could recognise. Being in the northern hemisphere, Orion dominated and was my favourite. To be honest I wasn’t all that interested in being able to identify and name them all, or know of what they were composed, in the same way that I don’t really care about evaporation and air currents when I’m looking at clouds – I just liked “gazing” at them.
Until, happily gazing upwards one warm night when I was probably around the age of six or seven, I saw my first shooting star, and it scared the hell out of me. All I remember afterwards is running the length of the garden path as fast as my little legs would carry me, back to the safety and comfort of the house. I’d never seen bits of the sky zipping around unpredictably before, and it was disconcerting to say the least.
Post title comes from a song by Laurie Anderson.