Tuesday, April 17, 2012
My mother loved science and science fiction, too. She loved thinking about space travel and warp speed and beneficent beings from other planets. I remember when we were kids and were still able to see stars and the Milky Way from our suburban Kansas City backyard, she would have us lie on the grass, gaze at the sky. She would talk about the movements of the planets, how fast the earth spins and twirls around the sun, about how many years it takes the light of distant stars to reach us. Her voice was sure and steady and she would go on and on while we kids lay there totally transfixed by the beauty above us, lulled by the sound of her voice. She took us on many a trance journey to outer space. Carl Sagan himself could not have done a better job! There were times when I found myself holding tight to the grass, as if I might suddenly fly off, onwards and upwards to the stars.
My mother would have LOVED this morning, on the national mall, watching the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery. I thought of her often, standing in the dust, surrounded by a bunch of highly convivial folks who, like me, really wanted to see this thing that has been coming and going from earth to space for 27 years, piggy-backed on a 747. We cheered as the shuttle circled the mall. We smiled. We took a million pictures.
I'm sure if you google "space shuttle DC monuments" you will find at least 10,000 pics. It was a sight to see! I did snap a few shots but mostly what I did was stare and cheer. The flyby was at 1500 feet. It was so close I felt I could reach up and touch it. I opened my eyes wide and took it in.
It was rather thrilling. Very nice!