Driving across Eastern New Mexico

Right now I’m driving across Eastern New Mexico. The weather forecast says that a big winter front will be coming in tomorrow, blanketing everything South of I-40 in snow and ice, and I’m running ahead of it.

But tonight there is not a cloud in the sky. I’ve pulled off of Rt 54 and driven a half mile up a random dirt road, shut off my engine and lights and got out to look at the stars. The only sound is tinkling metallic sound of my own truck cooling off and the whine of a semi at least a mile away.

Standing here in absolute darkness, no street lights, no moon, just the stars filling my peripheral vision overhead. I remember the planetarium shows, but this is the original. I can pick out a few of the constellations of my youth: the Big Dipper, Orion, dozens of others that I strain to remember the names of. And then there is the whole of the Milky Way. I haven’t seen the Milky Way on the East Coast in decades.

Looking up and taking it in, it’s easy to feel that we are all clinging to the surface of our little Earth, covered in six inches of top soil, spinning among the stars.

And suddenly, a shooting star, racing West.