It was dark this morning. I pulled out of bed around 4:30 and made some coffee. Rising 30 minutes earlier in order to run 5 miles versus my regular 2.5 or 3 miles was easier than I thought. By 5:10 my feet hit the asphalt and I was heading north out of town.
Passing the last street light of the neighborhood, I was facing total darkness. The moon hanging low in the sky was not helping. My surroundings were being eaten by approaching blackness and all of the sudden the stars were huge. After going about 30 yards my eyes adjusted to the faint double yellow lines in the middle of the road. I centered myself and began the second mile.
The planes taking off of Memphis were the first lights to follow in the night sky then I became aware of the cell towers blinking in the distance. Before long I caught a glimpse of a shooting star. Of course, the first one always makes you do a double take. Did I just see that streak?
Breaking the pattern of my feet, I heard a commotion in the bushes. A startled deer ran up and over the railroad tracks to be lost in the Pine forest on the other side. I raised my head and saw another shooting star. This streak was short and sweet, but very real.
Now, I was actively watching the night sky. Both streaks were left of the Milky Way and where there are two there will be more. I was rewarded with a burning clump. The unidentified matter was in our atmosphere, probably a chunk of old satellite, burning in a path from the Milk Way skirting the tree line to the west, eventually falling below the Pines of my dark horizon.
I ran across a book that fits the perfect shooting star model. Laika by Nick Abadzis is a graphic novel about the first animal in space. Yes, I realize bacteria made it into the heavens and some stray fruit flies in the V-2 rocket, but I am talking about an animal with fully developed anatomy. I am talking about a Russian dog.
In graphic novel fashion the first panel is full of white with slight blues swirls. The second panel has some sky showing and you realize it is a landscape full of snow. Turn the page and you see four panels with blowing snow, jagged icicles and a rocky precipice. At the very bottom, a lone man struggles against all these frigid elements.
The man chants a mantra over and over, “I am a man of destiny. I will not die.” Laika, the small puppy he finds on his journey to civilization, will not die either; although she is destined for the heavens.