Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Scout Cloud

At the end of an all-nighter, a marvel overhead....

Three tapes started off my weekend, delivered by Fed Ex on Friday. I e-mailed the last transcript to my client at 7 AM Tuesday, then went to bed for a 4-1/2 hour sleep before the doorbell rang. On my porch rested two more Fed Ex packages, with 13 more tapes.

As I type this, two of the 13 tapes are done; and before the evening is out I will likely tackle a third.

At 5 AM on Tuesday I put the garbage out and was treated to an incredible view: brilliant stars, the Milky Way hanging overhead. Mars gleamed close to zenith. I came back inside and realized the paper had probably been delivered, and slipped back into the sneakers I'd just kicked off. Again I went outside into the clear, cool night.

And, in the otherwise crystalline sky, saw a single cloud -- a large, diaphanous blob crossing Orion at breakneck speed. I tracked it as it raced northeast to southwest. It stretched into a thin band before seeming to bunch up again before fading between two trees to the south.

I was following a glow. I looked around: the rest of the sky remained brilliantly clear. Only this single cloud sped and metamorphosed low overhead. Standing awestruck in my driveway, paper under my arm, I wondered idly whether it would execute a hairpin turn, circle around toward me, and beam me up. There was no way to photograph it. I thought: This is why we have so many reports of UFOs.

After it vanished I went back inside and turned on the Weather Channel. What is now Tropical Storm Ophelia had been sending bands in roughly the same direction I'd seen the lone cloud take, and the night had been breezy. Very pleasant, in fact. Given the otherwise clear sky, it was hard to believe the Weather Channel's claim of 100% humidity in my area.

"It was a scout cloud," Mary said. We don't know if that's the term for it, or if there is a term for it, but we agreed that "scout" fit.

Mary had awakened around 6. We both stepped outside and marveled. What she thought was Mercury was probably a rather dim Saturn; though Mercury was up as well, close to the horizon and likely obscured by trees.

We listened to the wind in the branches, and thrilled as a sporadic meteor flashed in the south as if to tell us: It went that-a-way. Another cloud, the Orion Nebula, fuzzed before us, the blurry "star" in the scabbard. Nearby swam the seven sisters of the Pleiades, beginning to fade as dawn gradually brightened beyond the roof.


Blogger twila said...

Wow, you make sleep deprivation sound appealing! I love the way you SEE so much.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

Me too.

1:53 PM  

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