Brand building through storytelling

Dazzled by a night of shooting stars

By the time you read this, my husband and I will be in London, which as far as we’re concerned is the world’s most glorious city. We’ll have a mental checklist of favourite places to revisit, and far too many ideas for other places we haven’t yet seen. But if there’s anything we’ve learned in our travels so far, it’s that the best vacation moments can’t be scripted. They just sort of happen. They take you by surprise, and then they take your breath away.

The most enchanting vacation moment of my life, which I very nearly missed through sheer pig-headedness, took place in the small hours of a brisk November night in St. George, Utah. We had come to St. George for yet another spa vacation, but our trip just happened to coincide with the Leonid meteor shower of 2002. “It’s going to be spectacular,” said my husband, who follows such things. “There won’t be another one like this for 30 years. If you can’t see a shooting star tonight, you’ll have to be wearing a blindfold.”

I had somehow reached the age of 53 without seeing even one shooting star. It’s not as if friends hadn’t tried to jolly me along. On summer nights in cottage country, they’d coax me onto damp lawns, where we were all supposed to lie in rapt contemplation, waiting for a star to take its sweet time and fall. Every time, the same thing happened. The cold, the mosquitoes or a kink in my neck would drive me back inside to the comfort of my book. Minutes later, the gang would follow, exclaiming, “You missed a couple of beauties!”

What can I say? I’m impatient. I’m also fiercely protective when it comes to my sleep, and watching the meteor shower would require me to stumble outside in the middle of the goddamn night. As my husband set the alarm, I announced, “Have fun. I’ll pass on the Leonids.”

It might have been the clatter of many pairs of bounding feet outside our room. It might have been someone’s distant cry of delight. Or it might have been my own realization that by the time the Leonids unleashed another blowout display, I’d be 83. “Oh, what the hell?” I muttered. Slipping my hiking jacket over my nightgown, I padded outside and encountered an extraordinary spectacle. Sober, responsible grownups who earlier that day had been checking the calorie count on the high-fibre cereal or pushing themselves on the hiking trail were jumping up and down and squealing. Like kids on a fairground, they couldn’t keep still.

No wonder. To see a shooting star, I didn’t even have to look up at the sky. I had only to keep my eyes open and let them streak across my field of vision, one after another. I counted half a dozen in one instant, then realized I couldn’t keep up. I ran across the still-green lawn the way, decades ago, I had run after fireflies in our garden, thinking I could capture their darting brilliance in a jar. That night it almost seemed that I could hold out a basket and let the stars come to me, like leaves from a wind-shaken tree. I stretched out both arms and spun, giddy with amazement as the stars fell and fell until, imperceptibly, they stopped falling.

That night I dreamed of meteors. I still do. I’ll keep dreaming about them, and talking about them, and holding fast to the memory of them in joyless moments for as long as I’m here on this earth.


Posted by Rona

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