My Own Planetarium in the South Jersey Pine Barrens

The weather this past week has been cloudy and rainy. Miniature lakes interrupt the pathway of the dirt roads.

Every now and again I invite a couple of friends over to enjoy our fire pit out in the back yard. We have a couple of drinks and cook hot dogs or s’mores.

Not too long ago on one of these occasions, my friend veronica caught me off guard.

“Look at all the stars Chelley,” she said, gazing upward.

At first I was not astonished. Of course there are sparkling things in the sky. They are always there.

“Um, yeah,” I said.

Ten minutes went by, and our conversation is cut off by Veronica.

“Will you just look at all these stars,” said veronica. “They are so beautiful. It looks like you can see the milky way.”

I looked up, finally. She was right – on this night, they were glittering all across the sky. Not a cloud in sight. It was then I realized how much I take nature – the beauty of it – for granted. I have my own planetarium right outside my door, above and beyond my roof. Living here, where I can see the sky every night in the dark wide open, I had become blind to something so spectacular.

It then made sense to me – my friends live in a closely populated area, in a regular neighborhood in a regular town, and they don’t get to see things like this on a normal basis.

“I wish I could see them like this at home,” said Vern.

I looked at her, smiling. “Well, you can come over to my house to see them any time you want,” I said.

Now whenever the news announces a meteor shower, me and my friends grab a blanket and lay out in the back yard, counting shooting stars, as many as our eyes can catch.

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