As I turned onto the dark road that would take us to George Observatory, I remembered my grandma saying I was not afraid of anything, that when I want to do something or go somewhere I would just jump in and get it done. Then I saw a sign emerge from the darkness into the line of vision of the car’s headlights. “Venomous snakes in the park.” That scared me. I uttered to myself, what the heck is that about?!
It took some time for my eyes to adjust to the dark park. Once I closed the rear passenger door, the car’s inside light went off, and we were surrounded by darkness. There a was a faint yellow glow from faraway street lamps, but other than that we had to keep a close eye out for the path from the parking lot across the road to the observatory.
I should have known that the darkness meant we wouldn’t see the stars. I spent many a dark evening sitting on my parents’ front porch in the dark. E and I walked along the trail and spoke in hushed tones, as if our voices would disturb the darkness. That happens in the dark sometimes.
The path was illuminated by low-set white bulbs and then red bulbs. My daughter and I followed the path, and as we got closer to the observatory we heard the commotion of antsy teenagers milling about. We later found out that the cloudy sky meant that the telescopes had been put away.
On our way back to the trail, my daughter found a bench and requested we sit down. In the red haze of the lightbulbs, we looked up into the sky and saw stars, branches, fireflies. Staring up at the sky, together with the warm air, reminded me of home. As we walked and searched for the stars in the sky, I remembered many an evening back in Sabana Grande. The country side. The darkness. The sounds.
Suddenly it all felt very familiar. The voices were not familiar, but the darkness, the sounds of night creatures, the smell of the warm evening air, the trail, it all felt real. For a moment I was back home, in a blackout, trying to make sense of figures in the dark.
Sometimes I forget how those dark country nights are as much a part of me as the bright city lights.