It wasn’t a snipe hunt after all.
When I first arrived, a mere ten minutes early, there were eight ladies who’d gotten there before me — all in their 70’s, all birders. I wondered, not for the first time in my life, what I’d gotten myself into, and kept watching the parking lot for my friend to come join me in my awkwardness. About 75 people came to the night hike, with my friend being one of the last to arrive because she thought it was located someplace else with a similar name v.s. a couple of blocks from her house. Still, she came in time for the start of the hike, and I was very glad to share the adventure with a friend. Families with small children also came. I think I unintentionally impressed my friend with my star and sky knowledge, mostly from teaching kids and family campingtimes, even though I feel I know so little myself and constantly want to learn more. For instance, I know that you can see all Seven Sisters if you have 20-20 vision. These days, I can only see four of them clearly with the rest pleasant blurs. And I know the distinction between jets, satellites, and the International Space Station. We saw some of the former two soaring overhead.
We hiked silently, and without flashlights, through the woods and along a lake where we heard (but couldn’t see) trumpeter swans and Canadian geese. It was interesting to see in the dark woods even before moonrise lit the night. I also found that a lot of my senses went foot-ward as the terrain changed from pavement to leaves and tree roots, to pavement again, and then to flattened tall grass and crunchy patches of old snow. At first I didn’t trust myself and watched my footing, but there were so many interesting things to be watching at night, in the woods, that it didn’t take long after our start for me to not to bother looking groundward.
We star-gazed out in the meadow, with two telescopes, and identified constellations and planets. I learned about really cool star apps of which got my little ole heart a-racing. When the moon glowed over the horizon, we discussed her for a bit, and then as the stars gave way to moon’s light, we headed back to the entrance along a paved road.
Would I do this again? You betcha! Only next time, I’ll bring even more friends, and be more prepared with more star knowledge and a constellation-reading app. Very cool.