Essay: Constancy

First posted in August, 2006

I've been thinking back.

I remember that spring night on Andrew's Bald when the comet Hale-Bopp passed overhead.

I recall that cool November evening, years ago, when I reclined on a blanket in the grass to observe the Leonids.

I remember that Halloween night when I saw a shooting star above the field of untouched snow.

I recall countless auroras, each as beautiful and haunting as the last.

Earth moved through the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle last night, bringing the Perseids, but as chance probability would have it, the skies above were overcast (living on the coast of southeastern Alaska often means missing these annual delights).

This morning I stood on the bank of the Taiya River, watching its waters flow so swiftly, steadily eroding the banks, bringing us salmon like clockwork. I could hear the wind, but couldn't feel it, and looked up to see it moving above me through the trees. Across the valley, a glacier was visible through a break in the fog, hanging on the edge of a distant cliff - it's there every day, whether I can see it or not, and it's slowly sliding off the mountain, even if I can't perceive that movement.

Comets, meteors, solar storms, water, wildlife patterns, wind, weather, geophysics. All of this is occurring everyday, all around us, whether we are able to observe it or whether we even stop to take notice. I'm home, no longer standing by the river, but it's flowing nonetheless, and the Perseids will come again next summer.