RRRRrrr rrRRRrrr rrrRRRrrr. The incessant grinding noise emitted by my computer was making it almost impossible to concentrate on anything. Some days it went away after a few hours of operation, but not yesterday, and by 10:30 p.m. I’d had enough. I shut the computer down, went outside, and saw two meteors, one right after another, as I stood there with my fly down, flapping my free hand in the direction of a mosquito’s whine. Some nights, if I didn’t have to pee, I might not step outside at all.
And it’s not often we get clear weather during the Perseids. I reminded myself that one of the last times times we did, I ended up writing a poem about it (note the urination theme). On that occasion, I was actually lucky enough to hear the meteor as it fell — a rare and mysterious phenomenon supposedly caused by very low-frequency (VLF) radio waves that are picked up by objects in one’s vicinity. “Simple materials like aluminum foil, thin wires, pine needles — even dry or frizzy hair — can intercept and respond to a VLF field.”
So I got up early this morning and sat out in the field with my coffee mug, watching the stars fade as the small stain of light slowly spread above the eastern ridge. It was good to get reacquainted with Orion, standing roughly where he’ll appear at nightfall in January, and the Pleiades high overhead like a lucky ring found hiding under the sofa cushions. It’s a little sad to sit outside at dawn this time of year and not hear any wood thrushes — or most any of the other exhuberant singers from just a couple of weeks ago.A screech owl quavered a few times, but otherwise it was still, and cool enough to keep the mosquitoes from flying. And in all that time I only saw a single meteor, and that one only out of the corner of my eye.
But it has been too long since I’ve done any stargazing, I decided. Usually about all I remember to do is wake up early on mornings when the moon is full, and even then I tend to sit close to the house. Getting away from the trees when the sky is dark and very clear, I am reminded of the ultimate strangeness of reality — something I often lose track of with all the comforts and minor dramas of daily life. When I got back to the house, I thought perhaps I might have a poem in me, but instead I found myself fetching a screwdriver and opening up my computer.
I knew what the problem was: the slow death throes of the old hard drive from my previous computer, which my cousin Jeff had mounted alongside the new hard drive when he gave me this good-as-new recycled computer a few months back. He had told me it wouldn’t be hard to disconnect it, and it wasn’t. It took me less than ten minutes to perform the lobotomy and close the box back up. I turned it on with much trepidation, but lo and behold, my operating system came up without a hitch — and in blessed silence.
Later in the morning, I walked down the road to unlock the gate at the bottom of the hollow for an expected visitor. Mosquitoes were singing in both ears — the first real hatch we’ve had all summer, thanks to the recent rains. I surprised a doe and her half-grown fawn in the stream, and they bounded up the opposite side of the ravine and stopped, watching warily as I continued on my way, their big ears backlit by the sun and revolving slowly, like dish antennae tracking a distant signal.