What’s Left Behind is Waiting Before You

If you’re on my FB, you might have seen a quick post on Sunday about my ancient telescope which I got out of storage to take a look at Mars, seeing as it’s the closest it will be for a while. Spoiler: it looks just about the same, a medium-size orange/red dot. Jupiter was a lot more interesting with four moons all in a perfect row. (I found out why they form in planes like that. It’s not gravity or just things knocking about. It’s the planet’s magnetic field that corrals the dust and chunks into a flat disk. Same thing for solar systems and galaxies. So how cool is that?)


This thing is heavy. The tracking motor doesn’t work, and I have to keep adjusting it as the earth spins and everything moves out of the field in a matter of seconds. The mirrors are dusty, and one is damaged. I only have one lens. And yet, it has stuck with me for over thirty-five years and four major across-state-line moves, wrapped in cellophane to keep it all together.

I got it from my grandpa when he cleared out his garage one summer. I was 12? Maybe younger. We lived near a lake and the skies were dark, especially in the winter. So on the odd night when I felt my wanderlust the worst and my books could not satisfy, I’d drag that heavy-ass thing down two cement steps and point it at stars. It was taller then me, and awkward. I was usually in my long purple robe and slippers, freezing and blowing steam. I never knew which star would blossom into a planet, too impatient to use the charts more than a rudimentary, “that direction.” I found Jupiter and Saturn that way, and when I see them in the sky even now, I smile, remembering the first time I tightened my focus and they appeared, perfect and sharp against a more perfect black.

Last night, after thirty-plus years, I got my scope out again, ripped off the brittle packing wrap, and put the feet back on. I lugged it out over a step and put it in the drive, pointed it at a bright star to work at getting the spotting scope aligned, and boom, it was Jupiter–four little moons in a beautiful straight line.

And then something really nice happened. I went to move it so Mars would be visible from behind the trees. My arms tucked under the drive in the exact same spot it had thirty years ago. I lifted, already knowing the balance of its weight against me would be perfect as I shuffle-walked to a new spot.

The scraping sound as I set it down was familiar. The feel of the spin as I shifted the barrel was smooth and grinding all at the same time. I had a confident knowledge that the configuration was going to end up where the scope and lens would be at the right height for easy viewing. I bent low to find Mars through the scope, and my left arm curved around the barrel looking for the release toggle without thought. It met my fingers exactly where I knew it would be, and in seconds, I had everything aligned.

I found more than Mars and Jupiter last night. The things that make us up stay with us for far longer than we realize–they are there when we reach for them, meet us like habit and graceful patten, most times to our unawares. I’m not so far from where I was thirty years ago. Gotta bring more of that back into focus. I’m going to need it as things realign.


Filed under Drama Box

16 responses to “What’s Left Behind is Waiting Before You

  1. Jaime

    I saw this bright red thing that did not move in the sky a week or so ago. I was like “Kids look! its Mars! Its the planet, not a plane!” I found an app that uses the camera phone to tell you what you are looking at. Awesome sauce! I would love to have a big map of the constellations. The Eldest has a telescope but it wasn’t ready to pull outside yet. If rain stays away tonight maybe we can take it out. That is SO cool to see objects in space. The moons of Jupiter!

    And as always your storytelling is sublime. Thank you for sharing with us!

  2. I love stories like that. Those memories being able to bring them back with something you saved. It had value then and does today. I love the stars. Remembering vacations in Oregon where the skies are that clear. Seeing the Milky Way for the first time…… Thank you

  3. I am so glad someone got there telescope out. I tried talking my husband into dragging our telescope out on to the back porch, but no luck. Good think I have binoculars. Funny how your post reminding me of being 17, living in Indiana and driving my mom nuts. During meteor showers I make her drive us up out the small valley we lived in surrounded by trees. The goal was to get to a place to sit and watch in the pitch, black night. Amazing. She put up with me dragging her out into the rain to watch the night crawlers mate. Some Mom. Thanks for the memories Kim.

  4. Kelly Hanmore

    All I can say is”beautifully said”. Thank you for sharing that.

  5. Fiona

    Perfect post to appear on my Facebook feed, on a day I have been morosely contemplating the past, as it’s my grandfather’s anniversary. Thanks Kim, this picked me up!

  6. I, too, am finding old, familiar footing as care for my ailing (now) elderly mother these past few weeks. When I was young, she suffered terrible bouts of depression and now, gently helping her clean up and changing hospital gowns, it reminds me of being with her in those darker times. Strange how familiar even the darkest of times can turn out to be…like looking at the beauty of stars in a dark night that seems to be all that is out there.

  7. DK

    You had me at the title of today’s blog. Your grandpa must have been special.

  8. Alitza Leventhal

    Thanks, Kim. As always, beautifully said. I, too, have been delving into the past. My youngest sister passed a couple of weeks ago, and I discovered a lot of family photos in her piles of stash. As I went thro2them, pulling the ones I was going to keep for myself, I was transported back to those moments forever frozen on film. It’s been an emotional journey, and I have decided to use a picture of a much younger me as my Facebook icon. It’s who I j really am!

  9. Vampyre

    My experiece this week is far different. One of my kittens, Cheese(he’s one now) some became trapped in my neighbors attic/crawl space) Sunday. It was 6:30 when I got home. I heard his distress call but couldn’t find him at first. Once I realized where he was, I called 911. My neighbors and I are not friendly and I thought they were gone. When the cop got here he checked thd house and found the woman there. She said I could go up after Chese. It was horrible. Dust every where and not the pixie kind. The temp was at least 100, just miserable. After a few miutes I was done and ready to pass out. As I made my way to the exit I saw Chese following me. Once I got to the steps, he laid down and was panting very hard. At the time it semed like a good idea to pick him up. NOPE! He was scared of the people on the ground. He cut my face hands and arms and the scampered of. Feeling defeated, I left him a bowl of water and went home. At about 10:30 he came in and jumped in bed with me. 😀

  10. Carrie E Williams

    I just love this!

  11. Hi Kim, I really needed this post today! I have been contemplating this very thing, I cannot even describe how eerie it is to open email and see this today. I have come to the same exact conclusion recently, that past is ahead, and what one’s ‘essence’ is can’t be denied. What we were before we knew what we were, was the real path. Sometimes we take ourselves on other paths which aren’t a right fit. Who we were originally…is the real us. Again, thanks so much. I needed this. 🙂 [great post title too, btw]

  12. Ed Carson

    Such moments are treasures.

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