Up until the weekend just passed, I had never seen a shooting star.
Much to the shock and horror of my in-laws, even though my childhood was spent beneath the Southern Highlands sky, not once in my twenty-seven years on this earth had I seen a shooting star.
Man’s family recently bought a property in Coolah, north of Mudgee in inland New South Wales. Knowing how busy the next few weekends (months, years, etc.) are going to be, Man thought it would be a good idea that we head to the property so that I could see it and for a cheeky little camping getaway.
We packed up our things and drove the five-and-a-half hour drive to the property on Friday night. Now, I have done a lot of long drives including snow trips almost every year since I was five. Never before though have I experienced a length of road that was so littered with roadkill, but also on a happier note, also one that was more scattered with living wildlife. I am talking packs of kangaroos bounding alongside the car (Man told me that the pack we saw was a small one, but you guys weren’t there so – IT WAS A HUGE PACK). It was phenomenal. Also, it was as if every single wombat to have ever trundled this earth was on the Golden Highway last Friday night.
Look, all cards on the table, I was not a happy camper (note the pun) when we arrived. My back was sore, I was exhausted, I had a headache, I felt annoyed for no reason whatsoever and my back was sore (it deserves mentioning twice as it was seriously painful). I felt better when I crawled into the bed that Man’s mum, Louise, had made up for us in one of the two caravans that came with the property. Though I didn’t sleep well, I was warm and tucked deep under the doona with Man curled around me and I was at least horizontal.
I woke up the next morning to an already crackling fire, a wide, bright blue sky and campfire breakfast. There really is nothing quite like sitting around a fire, it does something to one’s soul; it settles me. After breakfast, Man unloaded the trailer and started up the quad bike. Let me tell you, that thing absolutely hauls. The last time I was on a quad bike was when I was about twelve and Mum and Nan took Jack and I to Nelson Bay and we went four-wheeling over the sand dunes. But nothing compares to when you are on your own property, arms around your partner, your bubba in between you and a dirt road before you.
It wasn’t long before the conversation turned back to the fact that I had never seen a shooting star and every single member of Man’s family, almost in unison, guaranteed that I would see one if the sky was clear that night. There was not a doubt in any of their minds. Me on the other hand? Not convinced. Not even a little bit.
Then the chainsaws came out.
Following the conversation about the conditions that the sky must be in for proper shooting-star gazing, Man decided that some pretty large trees that surrounded the fire pit area had to go so as to have a completely uninterrupted view of the sky.
In the bush, out in the country, Man is absolutely in his element. When he was wielding that chainsaw he really did look as if he were filming a commercial for it. Seeing him do all the man things that he loves to do was complete and utter bliss for me. I just sat there and stared (ogled, really) as he fell trees and hacked them up and sweated and all that good stuff.
The rest of the day passed happily; the boys continued playing lumberjacks while Louise, Indi (Pete’s niece who called me Aunty Leah and I cried) and I tidied up the caravans and made them feel more like home. I prepared lunch on the barbecue and it further solidified in my heart how much I love camping and being in the outdoors. After all the foliage from the trees was cleared, Man got the fire going again and we all eased into the night. As day turned to night, the clear blue sky turned to an overcast one with about 98% cloud coverage. Man couldn’t believe it.
“I wasn’t going to do any work this weekend but I wanted you to be able to see the sky – that’s the only reason I cut those trees down!”
Now he wasn’t a happy camper.
We sat around the fire for hours, well after Man’s parents had gone to bed. Man looked up towards the sky at one point and excitedly grabbed my arm – the clouds had (partially) cleared. The Milky Way shone down on us, gloriously illuminating the property. He leant back into his chair and looked up, instructing me to do the same. He took my hand and said, “Just look up, okay? I promise you will see one.”
I did as I was instructed. I looked up, at nowhere in particular. I was hopeful but completely unconvinced that I was going to see anything more than I was already staring at. Ten minutes passed when, directly above me, a shooting star. I tightened my grip on Man’s hand.
“You saw that too?” Man asked me, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
Finally, after almost twenty-eight years on this planet I saw a shooting star. Not only that, I saw it while pregnant, holding my partner’s hand while we were being warmed by a fire.
That moment? That was everything I could ever and will ever need in life. It was poetry, it was infinity in a single fleeting moment. It was all-encompassing and overwhelming.
I don’t even care admitting that he was right (he always is).