McPherson County farmer and rancher
As spring slowly approaches, my two children and I have spent a considerable amount of time in vehicles as of late getting to or from practices well into the evenings.
While in town, light poles illuminate our Main Street, a flashing red light brightens the main intersection, light streams from the windows of local businesses, and porch lights brighten otherwise dark sidewalks.
But as we get further from town and closer to our farm, the warmth of those lights fade. With every mile, the surrounding countryside becomes blacker and blacker until it is engulfed in darkness. Aside from some tiny glows coming from either front porches or distant yard lights, the blacktop leading my family home many nights is only visible because of the blazing headlights of our vehicle.
In the daytime, it feels as if there’s more blue sky in the country compared to that same sky seen in town. At night, the sky seems infinitely larger than the one viewed in town perhaps because there are no obstructions. There are no buildings or houses or billboards blocking our views of the night’s yonder as we drive home out in the country. It’s just wide-open sky.
Driving myself and my two children home recently, while I kept my eyes on the road and remained vigilant with regard to deer crossing my path, my two backseat passengers noticed two bright objects in the night sky. None of us had noticed these lights even 10 minutes before as we had driven through town; but the presence of these gleaming objects before us once within the darkness of the country kept their attention and called them to keep looking.
At first, my son thought they were satellites while my daughter suggested they were mysterious balloons. As we drove further from town and got closer to home, we decided that the two lights they’d been watching throughout the duration of our drive were not blinking and were not moving. Helicopters, airplanes, drones, balloons were quickly removed from our list of potential sources of the lights. I questioned out loud whether these orbs in the sky might be planets.
After getting home and doing a little internet searching, we discovered that it was in fact Jupiter and Venus showing off in the night sky. The kids and I gazed at the lights above and talked about how far these planets were from us and how impressive it was to be seen by us so clearly and vividly within the heavens.
A few days later, people on social media began either commenting or started inquiring about these strange lights in the evening sky. The news began mentioning the newly observed celestial glows and more and more people learned about the two planets catching everyone’s attention.
While listening to the morning news as the kids were readying themselves for school, my daughter pointed out that we had seen those lights days ago, and it was nothing new.
I had to remind her that nights are a lot darker out on the farm than in town, which was perhaps why we spotted them sooner.
In the wisdom that only a 7-year-old can articulate, my daughter decided that while the dark in the country might be bigger (and maybe scarier at times) than it is in town, it lets us see things a little earlier than others, and that’s pretty cool.
Yes, my little one, that is pretty cool. Here’s to those many dark nights out in the country and all the heavenly wonders that especially appear throughout the year from our view on the farm.