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Sometimes I think I live for moments like these….

Did you ever wonder what made our ancient elders gaze up at the nighttime sky and try and chart the stars and map the heavens? I know I have. Naturally, they didn’t have all of the bells and whistles that come with modern technology but yet, they took the time. Maybe it was a certain kind of hope they were looking for when they cast their eyes upward and tried to contemplate the universe that surrounded them but was dancing out of their reach. Maybe it was better than casting their glance downward at the familiar earth and pondering their mortality, knowing in the back of their minds that they would never get a chance to soar the skies and look down upon a world they could only imagine.

I had just settled in after making the starters for a big ‘ol vat of chili for the upcoming Buckeye football game. I mean, after all, company is coming over to watch the game and to howl at the moon and we might as well do it an a full belly

So the hot Italian sausage is busy browning away along with the ground beef. Onions are chopped, peppers are diced and whatever spices that I might find in the calamity that is my cupboard are added into what hopefully will become a heartwarming bowl of grub. Either way, my friends that are coming over, God bless ‘em aren’t that particular. I think they’re more grateful for the effort, a couple of cold ones and some good conversation than they are concerned with any haute cuisine that I might offer up. It is, after all ,the thought that counts.

With the fixin’s bubbling away and my daughter idling away on the couch engrossed in her new passion that involves the clarinet and the school band, I found myself with time to kill. Being a creature of habit, I grabbed my smokes and a cold one a decided to go sit out on my front porch and engage in my favorite pass time….watching the world go by.

Did you ever have one of those nights when you felt as if you had the whole neighborhood to yourself? Most of the other denizens of my block had made their way to the local high school football game to either root for their kids or to recall some smidgen of glory that lies buried in their memories. Besides the occasional passing car, that left me pretty much all to myself. I plopped myself down and the front steps, cracked the cold one, lit a cigarette and for some God unknown reason, started gazing up at the nighttime sky.

Usually, the Midwest sky in mid September isn’t all that special. Whatever glimpse of the stars you might catch is fleeting at best and one would be lucky to catch more than a flicker or two. To top it off, Hurricane Ivan had just finished spitting out whatever rain it had left as it made it’s way north and the sky was looking like a bucket of gray.

Soon, as the night got older, the wind started to pick up a bit and the clouds had begun to break into pieces and my eyes started to follow their path.

We’ve all probably seen stuff in the clouds before, either in person or through the eyes of the Weather Channel or through your local news, we’ve most likely seen familiar shapes and patterns. It almost becomes blasé Still, my eyes focused on a particular one that was drifting by.

Unless you count a six month gap, I’ve been a smoker for just about as long as I can remember. Blowing smoke rings is almost second nature. Sure, it’s not a skill I’d list on my resume but if you’ve ever sat in a darkened room with not even a breath of air to disturb anything, you could spend what felt like hours trying to blow the perfect ring. The room gets this sort of blanket of smoke between the floor and the ceiling, almost like a fine mist, that can only be penetrated by the breeze or some kind of other movement. Not to mention, it also drives my cat a little nuts.

Since not much was happening in the great outdoors, I decided to head inside and make whatever preparations needed to be made for bedtime. That’s when all of sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something strange. Smoke rings, made of clouds that seemed perfectly symmetrical began to drift through the sky. I’ve been on the orb going on 47 years and been in places around the globe, from the most desolate to the densest and I’d never seen anything like it.

I’m guessing Mother Nature must have been either really bored or had decided it was time for her to put on a little show for her audience of one. I saw at least three of four of the perfect circles go drifting by for what seemed like miles If Mother Nature was being co-operative, I could have stared at them all night. Alas, it was not to be, the show was soon over and I made my way inside.

I imagine our ancestors must have seen something similar back their days and told stories about it. They probably had no bubbling pot of chili to tend to, no cigarette in a closed room to compare it to or no neighbors off to watch a football game. They probably sat back in awe and amazement and kept their eyes glued to the sky hoping to see something like it just one more time.

As I said earlier, I think I live for moments like these. It makes me see just about everything through a different set of eyes and helps me in putting things into perspective. Either by plan, by accident or by certainty, it just makes everything seem so damn special. I guess there’s wonder all around us if you just take the time to look.

These days, I tell my kid to keep looking up into the sky. You never know what you might see and, even if it’s just a little piece of yourself staring back down at you, it’s all worth it.

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