It has been a hot and dry summer. So hot and dry that the fire danger has soared. The fun quotient of food and gunpowder was halved by state wide burn bans. The municipal fireworks show was canceled. We had friends to dinner on Tuesday. We were left to our own devices on Wednesday. We felt sorry for ourselves and joked about just watching fireworks on TV. Except, wait, we don't have TV.
Four kids, eager for some kind of holiday fun, waiting while two parents whisper, brainstorm, in the kitchen. We took them swimming. We played a board game. We ate dessert then hopped in the car.
We ordered milkshakes from Sonic and someone had the audacity to complain about having dessert twice. Is that a problem? We parked out by the soccer field, spread out our blankets and waited for it to get dark. The kids ran around with their glow sticks, battling it out in the summer heat. We watched the stars come out.
Then...then...with the help of two planispheres and a night sky app on the phone we found the stars. We found Saturn and Mars. We found Altair, Deneb, Polaris, and more utterly foreign names glittering in and beyond the Milky Way. We traced the imaginations of ancient men: Draco, Ursa Major and Aquila. The six year old danced with joy when the moon finally appeared in the sky. The moon! The moon!
All my life I've been able to name three stars in the night sky: those three in Orion's belt. I could never even find the Big Dipper. The success has gone to our heads. We plan to go out again in two weeks when the moon wanes, though we will probably skip Sonic.
After all, the Fourth only comes around once a year.