Monday, February 25, 2013

Fireworks on the ground

I believe you see things that no one else has seen.  I  mean that figuratively as no two people looking at the exact same thing see it exactly the same.  But the fireworks on the ground last night I’m pretty sure was a physical show no one else has ever seen, nor will ever see again.

As I sat gazing out the window of my flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth, waiting somewhat impatiently for the announcement we could turn on electronic devices, I became transfixed.  The announcement I had been waiting for came and went eventually, but I could not stop gazing at the most amazing light show.  Sometimes laptops and the work they contain must wait.

We flew to the north from DFW with the almost full moon, the snow moon, high above us to the east, which by good fortune was the side of the plane I was sitting on.  Once clear of the lights of the metro area, I noticed some flashes of light on the ground.  Very quickly I realized it was the reflection of the moon off various bodies of water, chasing me by the beauty of geometry (confessions – I’m a recovering math nerd).  There were electric lights here and there, but they were dull in comparison, which is pretty impressive given the light of the moon itself is a reflection of rays of light that originated some 150 million (give or take) kilometers away.  The electric lights were also very still.

The reflection of the waters though was dazzling, intoxicating even.  I could not tear my eyes away for more than a moment.  I wondered, perhaps feared a little that if I did so, I might not find this fireworks show dancing across the northern Texas ground.  Then I did – to test it – maybe I cheated and didn’t look away long enough, but when I looked back, there it was again.  

Teasing with momentary flickers on either small ponds or through windows in trees, like the fireflies fleeting momentarily here and there on a war Texas evening.  At other times, racing as though quicksilver spilling around the jagged fingers of one of the surprisingly many lakes.  And then the artillery shells, huge explosions of light on large surfaces of water, which faded gradually into darkness but remained etched in my consciousness.

I don’t know how many people have gazed at a show like that; no doubt I’m not the first.  But there has never been and will never be again a show quite the same.  The position of the moon and flight path, the atmospheric conditions, the condition of the surface of the water, all collided to make that unique show.  I’m glad I looked down.