Little cute cabins dotted the Lake shore in 1957. I was five years old. Coleman lanterns sent warm dim light across the water, sometimes aided by a brighter campfire. Still, they were no match for the bright stars on a clear night. I first learned about the Milky Way at the Lake. When I was five, I didn’t understand that the Milky Way was made up of one hundred thousand million stars many light years away. I was impressed.
While in my teens, my friends and I would escape from the cabin and our parents to go smoke cigarettes that we stole from one of the parents’ basement stockpiles. Old Golds, I as I recall. On the West end of the lake, the road passes through a long-wooded stretch and it was so dark we couldn’t see the dirt road in front of us. But, the stars shown through overhead between the part in the tall Cedars that lined both sides of the road. Our own way of navigation by the stars.
We passed our cabin, late that night, determined to take another turn around the Lake when a large meteor entering the atmosphere directly over our heads exploded into thousands of smaller meteors.Really, the most dramatic shooting star I’ve ever witnessed in my life. We weren’t certain we could believe our eyes. It was gone in a flash. Only the glow of our Old Golds remained in the dark. Without a word, we turned around and headed back to find some reassurance in the light of our cabin lanterns.
Without our star the Sun, our planet would be a rock covered in ice. Since ancient times, stars have meant hope, destiny, or eternity. We and other creatures navigated by the stars and as a metaphor, we follow our own star home. Some of us even shoot for the stars.
There are many bright lights on the lake now decorating railings, gutters and trees. The darkness in the forest around us is deep, and the lights make it cheerier somehow. We don’t feel so alone when our neighbors’ lights are on even when we know no one is home. The bright lights also distract us from looking up. The Milky Way can be hard to see. I miss that connection. I worry about it because a pattern we’ve made may lead us past our star.