Yesterday around 5:00pm I was driving back from running errands with my friend Clare when a mysterious thing happened. We were headed toward downtown Gloucester on East Main Street and Clare was talking when I saw something in the sky that stunned me. It was a ball of fire—a large ball of fire—glowing yellow, red and streaks of green just above the tree line. It moved so fast I could barely open my mouth before it disappeared in the dark sky.
I said to Clare, “What's that?” But, of course, by the time the words were out of my mouth it was gone. She didn't see it.
This is the sort of thing that always makes me wonder if my imagination is running amok or if I really saw something. My first thought was that it was either a meteor or space debris that had entered the atmosphere. Clare thought maybe it was an airplane on fire. Neither of us had a clue.
When I got home, I went on Facebook and told what I saw. Within seconds I had a selection of responses from people saying that a local news station was getting reports that mirrored mine and was asking anyone who saw it to comment. So I did. What people described was pretty much exactly what I saw and they were also excited and confused. The consensus seems to be it was a meteor.
I dreamed about it last night. It was a beautiful dream and when I woke up there was a part of me that was still saying “you made that up” but the rest of me was still a little bit in awe. No, a whole lot in awe. I know such things happen all the time but when I actually saw it—however fleeting—and then got corroboration from others, I was left with a sense of profound gratitude that I was lucky enough to catch it.
There is something sort of holy about such moments. They happen so fast that you wonder if you really saw it yet the image stays burned in memory. Many years ago on a very dark and misty night I was driving down a steep and winding road in West Virginia. I was aggravated because I was lost and there were no signs or other vehicles in sight. I came around a sharp curve and there in my headlights was a huge, stunning elk with the biggest rack I had ever seen. The second my headlights swept over him, he took off but even all these years later I can still see him exactly as I did that night if I close my eyes.
The image above is one I created in Photoshop but it is as near as I can come to reproducing what I saw last night. It was beautiful, fleeting, and astonishing and I know it will be one of those sights that lingers in memory forever.
Thanks for reading.