In honor of my mother’s birthday—New Year’s Eve—and because no one can say it better, I’d like to share her Backyard Botany column from 2002 for The Norwood Post. It’s a fitting tribute to my mother, to the beauty in nature, and to the year ahead.
To health and happiness,
Meteor display ignites shower of thankfulness
by Kate Lundahl
Just about a week and a half ago, I crumpled some newspapers and placed them in my Chiminea. I put lots of pieces of crispy kindling on top of the papers. I did this over the weekend in preparation for the meteor shower viewing. I didn’t want the kindling to be covered with frost when I started the fire. I figured the wood would stay dry in the little outdoor fireplace. At three o’clock on Monday morning, I made a pot of coffee. I dressed in tights, thick wool socks, flannel pants, a cashmere sweater, a mohair sweater, woolen leg warmers, a silk scarf, an angora scarf, lambskin-lined clogs, a wool hat, cashmere-lined woolen gloves and a long woolen cape.
My warmest fabrics covered my body and I was prepared to meet the cold of the early morning hour. I went outside and lit a match to the paper and the paper burned to heat the wood to a crackling start. The sweet smell of smoked escaped from the top of the chimney. As I laid larger pieces of wood on the fire, the crackle turned into a low hum.
I went inside to call some friends and reported a sighting of eight shooting stars during the fire start. I poured a cup of coffee and added some Baileys and turned off the lights and returned from the patio. The streetlights were to the east and the full moon was high in the western sky.
I sat in my cedar glider bench facing east, since the rumor was that the stage for the show was set in that direction. I felt comfortably nestled as I sat between the first trees I planted in my yard almost 13 years ago. The two blue spruce were keeping me company in my nighttime vigil. As the fire burned brightly, it heated the Chiminea and the heat began to radiate in my direction. I added larger pieces of juniper and pinion and the hum grew stronger. My eyes were on the sky and the display began. The meteors were showering above, to the south and the north, as well as in the east.
The storm did not hold the intensity of the one last November. However, last year I watched it from my friend Beth’s backyard. There were no streetlights nearby, and the moon was not full. We sat next to her fire pit, and as we warmed our stockinged feet on the hot rocks, we witnessed the most spectacular light show I have ever seen. This year the experience was much more mellow and subdued and I only saw 80 or 100 orbs and streaks dancing through the darkness. I sat on my patio for more than an hour and thanked my lucky stars.