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Wondering about our place in space

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Sunny South News

By Debby Gregorash

I’ve been living in the city for two years now and there are several things I miss about living in the country. I don’t regret we moved off the acreage — it was time and I was tired. But, I sure miss the sunrises, the open skies where you can see the storms coming from far away, and I miss the wildlife, especially the Meadowlarks and native ground-nesting sparrows.
I drove out into the country a couple of nights ago, to get away from the city lights so I could see some of the shooting stars from the meteor shower.
I found a secluded spot and turned the engine off and got out. The first thing I noticed was the wonderful country sound of crickets. How I miss the soothing sound of crickets.
The second thing I noticed was the smell of grain dust from combines and the added aroma of forest fire smoke. Interesting mix, that.
I looked up into the sky. There was the Milky Way and Cygnus the Swan in its usual place. All the familiar constellations were up there.
I think I will make more night-time drives out into the country, only this time I will bring a foam mattress to put in the back of my little truck, so I can lie down and view them in comfort. My arthritic neck didn’t appreciate me craning my neck for half an hour.
But I saw meteors. I made a wish on every shooting star I saw. One for each member of my family and for my community at large, and for this poor beleaguered planet, so polluted by our self-serving greed. What we hand out, I thought, we get back. We pollute the planet and now that poison is polluting our bodies. Serves us right.
I saw at least half-a-dozen satellites glide across the sky, too. Can you imagine what our ancestors would have thought if they looked up and saw these star-coloured dots moving silently across the heavens? I wonder.
That’s what night skies do best — make a person wonder. I can’t imagine anyone spending time looking up and not thinking about what our place is here in the universe and what is going on in the other universes out there. I wonder if there are planets with creatures like us living and breathing and working and playing. I wonder if they treat their planet with respect. I don’t know. I prefer to explore closer to home. I like this speck of dust called planet Earth.
I hear there are people lined up to take one-way space flights to Mars. They must have a dramatic death wish. I’m an earthling and you won’t get me to leave it until my spirit is set free from this package of water and dust.
The Earth’s living processes challenge us sometimes. They might even kill us. I love southern Alberta because there won’t be a tsunami here. I have a fear of drowning and I can’t even watch those Internet videos of people surfboarding giant waves. Terrifying.
We might have tornadoes though, which my relative who does live near the ocean said is the reason he wouldn’t want to live here. And of course, we have droughts and desiccating heat. Sometimes floods.
I do love the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore and the joy of moist skin. Whenever I am in a Maritime environment, I agree if I had to move there I wouldn’t argue. Same goes for mountainous terrain. I love that too.
But this is home. I can easily travel to the foothills and mountains and can find lakes to splash my toes in. I can find places to go where I can marvel at the night stars.
This place on this planet in the Milky Way is a gift. We are blessed indeed but we need to respect this sacred place. There is no other planet for us to run away to.

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