One never knows what can happen on the beach at night. Especially when I’m involved.
The Orionid meteor shower was nearing its peak and experts had suggested that stargazers find a dark place and recline for the best chance to see celestial phenomena. So, at ten o’clock, I headed for the mother of all dark places — the ocean.
The fun had started before I stepped from my favorite access onto the sand. A modern-day beatnik, sitting crosslegged, was beating bongos. The 20-something loner slapped those taut skins, summoning ghosts from campfires past. The only things missing were the camp, the fire and ghosts. Otherwise, it was all very tribal.
So, after finding my own digs a little down shore, it was time to get into the spirit. I tilted my head back, raised my arms and assumed the dharma-beach-bum posture. The constellations Pleiades and Cassiopeia were hanging out, and I saw more stars the longer I looked, but I didn’t see any meteors.
It was still a rush. The rhythmic “wooosh” of the waves, accompanied by the banging of the bongos, was hypnotic. A natural high.
After awhile I sat on the dunes. The lights lining Long Bay dramatized its curvature. I could see for miles and miles (intentional Who reference).
Crater-faced Luna lay above Myrtle Beach, dropping slowly to the southwestern horizon, her eyes turned toward the heavens as if she, too, were looking for meteors. She seemed disinterested in the city’s artificial lighting, including the spinning SkyWheel’s spectacular, psychedelic light show.
I stood for another half hour, wavering in a light breeze on spindly legs, body bent back, arms out to the side and neck craned. Looking to the heavens, I had this thought: there was nowhere in the universe that I would have rather been at that moment. We are so lucky to live along the Grand Strand. By midnight, it was time to have a few oat sodas and chill.
Two mornings later, after the meteor shower’s peak time, I went outside at five in the morning and stared at the sky, focusing on Orion. I saw six shooting stars — three that were really intense. It seemed to me that Orion the Hunter was also being hunted.
The Orionids occur in October when the earth’s orbit around the sun takes her through dust left behind by Halley’s comet; the debris enters our atmosphere at 148,000 miles per hour.
Bongo beat, please.