2002/11/15
 
15:38

Me and Meteors

The Leonid meteor shower is coming up on the evening of November 18/19. In honour of that upcoming event, here's an article I wrote following the last meteor shower...

I am entertaining the possibility that meteor showers are a myth.

Four times in the past I've driven an hour north of Montreal to see the Perseid showers. The first time, a blindingly bright full moon washed out the sky. The next year, it was nine-tenths overcast. The year after that, as I recall, I did see showers: it was raining.

The following year, viewing conditions were perfect, but for some reason the meteors didn't put on a show. Oh, I saw a few streaks of light, but for all I know they were highly motivated lightning bugs on an urgent errand. I saw no dramatic fireballs.

And now, I live in Toronto. I thought that maybe this year something different would happen. As it turned out I was right.

Fog.

It rolled in from the south at 2:00 AM, finally blanketing the area about an hour before the meteor shower was due to begin. I checked various webcams and, yup, all of Toronto was a bust.

Nonetheless, I knew that fog can lie close to the ground, so I decided to climb to the highest point in this part of Scarborough, which is the sanitary landfill by the Morningside Public Works. On a clear day, you can see Lake Ontario from the summit.

Climbing those steep slopes at 4:30 AM is fairly perilous. There are strange reedy plants, about a meter high, that manage to interweave themselves, making progress very difficult. I'm pretty sure I saw a few of them reach out to grab my legs.

Then there were holes filled with mud with the consistency of congealed oatmeal. You know the stuff: every three steps, the weight of your footwear doubles.

Nonetheless, I made it to the top of the hill. I smelled a skunk, so I was wary. That was fortunate, because just as I crested the top, I nearly stepped on the biggest racoon I've ever seen in my life. He was strangely unmoved by the encounter, though when I next glanced his way, he had vanished into thin air. After all that effort, I was at least expecting that he was my Spirit Guide or something, but no revelation was coming my way.

And no meteors, either. The sky was a bland white void. So once again, I saw no meteor shower.

Perhaps there's a great Power that for some grand reason is preventing me from seeing that particular aerial phenomenon. If so, I think I'll give the next meteor shower a miss, because the Power seems to be making things more difficult each time. If that's so, I think I know what we can expect next year.

Locusts.

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