I Found My Thrill on Plausawa Hill
They had come from all over, by plane, by bus, by car. I was happy to see them here, on top of this hill in my small
New Hampshire town. They had come to watch the night sky - a rare alignment of planets and the stars that surrounded them.
Plausawa Hill was just a mile from my house. Small, but treeless on top and nothing to obstruct our view but a communications
tower. The tower had a red light on top so places could see it. From the distance, the eerie sound of yipping coyotes floated
up to us.
I could just make out my friends in the cool darkness. Dorothy was there, and Jay, Maureen from a distant
land, Heide, and finally Kristin. How I convinced these ladies to abandon their web sites for one night and come to this
obscure place, I'll never know. Maybe it was my magnetic personality. Then I noticed someone new - a blonde woman with a bandaged
face and hands. Yikes. Anyway, it was time to begin.
"Are we all here?" I asked.
"No," answered Maureen. "Julie's
late. Should be here anytime. She doesn't like aeroplanes, so she's teleporting herself."
"Oh. Oh. Then while we're
waiting I guess we can..."
Off in the tangled brush appeared an odd, yellowish glow. Then a popping sound, and a thin
figure emerged. Julie had arrived. A few of us plunged in to help her out.
"Blimey," she said. "I've forgotten my
glasses." Then another glow around her eyes, and with a smaller pop, wire glasses appeared, slightly crooked on her nose.
"Oh, good. Never mind."
While Julie chatted to the others, I leaned over to Dorothy. "Who's that?" I whispered, looking
over at the bandaged blonde woman.
"Oh," she said, "that's Monday Knight. She's a character from a book."
nodded but said nothing. This was turning into quite a night.
"All right then," I began and the chattering faded. "First,
we need to get our bearings. Does everyone know how to find North?"
Silence. Then a few arms pointed in different
"Well, what you do is find the Big Dipper - look straight up and you'll see it. This time of year it appears
The ladies soon found the Dipper and I explained how the end of it points to the North Star. "That's
Polaris - the North Star. Now that we know North, who can point West?"
Some arms pointed East, other South. Monday
Knight, of all people, pointed West. "Very good, er, Monday. Now before we look for those planets all lined up, I should explain
the Zodiac. The Zodiac is made of 12 constellations that form a line, more or less. This is where you find the planets. Jupiter
is now in Gemini, and the other four - Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn - are in Taurus. Going east to west, we can see Virgo,
Leo and Cancer, with Gemini close to the horizon. Can anyone find Jupiter? Look for a bright, steady light."
it, I see it!" said Kristin. "It's right there." And it
was. The others followed suit. "I see it, too." "Oh, it IS
"Yup, there it is."
"Now for an even brighter planet, look for Venus." Venus was even easier to find, since it was
low in the sky and almost as bright as the Moon. The other planets were nearby, I told them. You just had to let your eyes
adjust, and they would appear. Only one of us had problems.
"I can't see them," said Julie.
"Sure you can,"
"Look, Mercury is right there, just right of Venus. See it now?"
"I need a fag."
broke in. "Don, it's amazing to see all those planets at once. What else can you tell us about the spring sky?"
Jay. Thanks for asking. Well, the brightest star, the first one you see when it gets dark, is called Arcturus, located in
the Herdsman. He's supposed to be a shepherd, sitting and smoking a pipe. Arcturus has an orange hue - can anyone see it?"
that the one?" asked Heide. She pointed at a likely candidate.
"Yes, well done! And there are many others I can tell
"My neck hurts," said Julie.
"You know, mine does too. One of my star books recommends lying down
so you can look straight up. That's why I brought this along." I walked over to a rolled-up wool blanket I'd set aside earlier.
I quickly unfurled it; several helping hands helped me smooth it over the level ground.
Julie wasn't impressed. "It's
not big enough. We won't all fit."
"Sure we will. Look, I'll lie in the middle and everyone else can pile on." The
group soon caught on and in seconds I was being prodded and squashed by several female body parts; arms, legs, and in one
case, a nice rear end. Altogether, the sensation was not unpleasant. In the dark, two fragrant heads found their way to my
shoulders. The thought occurred to me - I should do this more often.
We chattered about the other sights in the sky
- the Milky Way, unseen now, but out in full force by summer; The Seven Sisters, comets, shooting stars. As I mentioned the
last one, a brilliant one shot across the sky and burned out overhead, like a stray firework. We all saw it, and it was spectacular.
Sadly, it was getting late and time to go. It had gotten very cold now and besides, people had long ways to travel.
Julie wrapped herself in the blanket and waited until all else had left. Something about the transporting - she didn't want
After seeing my guests off, I went back to her. "Okay, you can do your thing now. I won't look."
right. Byee." Then I waited. No pop. More seconds went by and still no pop. I turned around. "What's wrong?"
- won't work. Bugger it."
I smiled. "That's okay. I'll give you a lift to the airport."
We walked together down
the rocky dirt path, tall pines above and the spring stars sparkling between them. Julie tripped over a root and I caught
her, then held her hand tightly as we continued down the slope.
"Nice night," I said.
"Yes," she said. "Bloody
(Written by Don Kelly, a member of The Writer's Life e-group)