|Lani Trock, Hello Blue Moon|
It was a cold January night by Florida standards. We had to make an emergency run to Walmart to get warm socks and gloves. I had two wool sweaters and a pea coat to my name and wore all three to keep my teeth from chattering. Once on the road it took about 30 minutes to find the perfect spot along Highway 441. The news mentioned the best place to watch the meteor shower would be in Paynes Prairie, just outside of Gainesville and the University of Florida.
The prairie is a 22,000 acre state park preserve that is home to some of the greatest plants and animals Florida has to offer (the Everglades isn't the only natural wonder in Florida!). It's a bird watchers dream and even has wild horses. During the day one can stay very busy hiking, fishing, canoeing, biking, and horseback riding (not on the wild ones...). There are no street lights lining the highway and at night the area is empty, quiet, and pitch black. Because of this, on any given night the sky suddenly comes alive with so many stars one wouldn't think it possible. The evening of the meteor shower the highway was lined with college kids, professors, and local families with their cars pulled over and people spread out on blankets or perked on the hoods of their cars. A tailgating scene, so familiar to Gainesville, yet in complete darkness. The constant sounds of whispers and giggles relieved any concerns I had with being so close to the deep mysteries of the grass lands only steps from our spot.
My roommates and I huddled together on a sheet and waited patiently for the stars to start falling. It took hours, we ate all our snacks, told jokes, stories, and eventually waited in silence. Dew formed on the grass beneath us and the cold wetness prevented any sort of nodding off. Finally, after hours, a shooting star burst across the sky. Then a second. Then two at time. Then three, five, ten. Magically the sky lit up with bright streaks each quicker than our eyes could process. Before we could react and say, "oh! there's one!" it would be gone. We couldn't point or communicate with each other for fear of missing the very fleeting moment and the collective gasping of individuals created a symphony of awe and delight across the highway.
As the sun crept up on the horizon, the crowds thinned and the stars disappeared. We dusted ourselves off, threw the sheet in the trunk, and with a peaceful satisfaction, headed straight to Denny's for some pancakes and eggs.
Started by the lovely Supal of Chevrons and Eclairs, Art to Inspiration is a once a month blog post inspired by a work of art. If you would like to participate in Art to Inspiration, click here to read more and sign up.
And in case you missed it here's July's and August's Art to Inspiration.