Yesterday was Adam's and my fifth anniversary, so on Friday Mimi came to stay with the Littles and we left the rice fields behind to drive a few hours up into the mountains. We figured out where we were going to hike the next day, made our way to where we were staying, got settled in - and waited for night fall.
Our host's dog accompanied us down to a nearby lodge and we crept quietly up a dark staircase and onto a balcony that was on level with the surrounding mountains. We stared up at the stars, listened to a couple of owls carry on a conversation across the valley, spotted a few meteors, and marveled at being in a place dark enough to see the Milky Way.
That last one struck me in particular. I've seen the Milky Way many times - an almost surreal cloud that crosses through the star-studded sky, but doesn't blow away like the other, earth bound, clouds. My family went camping a lot when I was a kid, and we lived in a few places that were rural enough to see it from our own backyard. 80% of Americans and 1/3 of the global population live with so much light pollution that they can't see it, and many of those places can't see any stars at all - and here I sit, looking at something wholly familiar to me that is, if I would only stop to recognize it, an extraordinary gift.
The next morning, as I stood by a campfire, watching the sun rise, I looked up in time to see Orion fading in the dawn and was reminded of the night before. I'm quick to notice small wonders - a tiny flower, the turtle cutting through our yard to get to the woods behind us, that sort of thing. But the bigger ones - galaxies and stars and sunrises and planets and the way it's always daytime somewhere (I recently explained that to our three year old, and watching her struggle to grasp that made me rethink how casually I've accepted it)... those have become so "normal" that I barely notice. It's time to recapture the wonder!
This post is day 2 in my 31 Days series, 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful - for an introduction and more posts, head here.