I was flipping through music stations on the way into work and came across “Shooting Star” by Bad Company. I was immediately taken back to the first time I’d heard this song (or at least the most memorable time when I heard it). It was around the year 1995, and I was still fairly young and my sister and brother were even younger. It was a hot, humid Saturday night in the summer. And while we usually stayed up pretty late on the weekends — especially in the summer — we usually did not stay up and be outside that late at night. But here we were, all camped out in the backyard on the largest comforter that Mom found in the linen closet. Tonight my parents made an exception.
Because tonight was the first night we were going to watch a meteor shower as a family.
We had moved “up north” into a very rural area of the state only a few years ago. We moved from a small city full of sidewalks and streetlamps to a house bordered on one side by the forest and on the other sides by small houses owned by quiet, elderly neighbors. In the country, you could see all the stars in the sky as long as it wasn’t overcast. It was the perfect setting to watch a meteor shower.
So here we were, all five of us, lazing around on a blanket with our eyes glued to the night sky. To be honest, I don’t remember much about how many meteors we’d seen that night. But I remember two things clearly.
One is “Shooting Star” playing on the radio a couple of times while we were out there, the DJ clearly excited about the meteor shower that could be seen in our sky that night. I thought it was a good song, and being 11 years old, thinking the DJ was very lucky that there was a song out there that he could play just for nights full of meteor showers.
The other thing I remember is kind of nerdy, but probably still important and still makes me chuckle. On that night, I learned how condensation worked. And it still helps me out today.
Here’s how that odd conversation started. My parents’ drink of choice on Saturday nights was, for decades, Bacardi Silver and Diet Pepsi on the rocks. So they both had their mixed drinks outside and I was musing about the collection of “dew” around the glass but only going as high as the level of the liquid inside. My parents were always good about teaching us stuff, so I got a little mini-lesson about humidity and condensation — the condensation always builds up on the side of the glass that is warmer than what’s touching the other side. Or with plants, when the air that touches them is warmer than the plant itself.
Hmm. That’s how that stuff works.
What does that mean to me now? It means when my car windows fog up throughout the year (which happens regularly in Michigan’s humid climate), I know whether to turn the defroster to Hot or to Cold depending on which side of the glass collects condensation. Very helpful for a person like me who has driven cars without a working air conditioner to help draw out moisture from the muggy Michigan weather.
In short, this song often reminds me of one of my fondest childhood memories. We had so much fun chilling out as a family, waiting for the meteors to come. As I get older and life begins to change, it reminds me of how important it is to make happy memories as often as I can.
(Song recommendation by Kimberly Wolkens)