Each time I wrap up a visit to my hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania—as I’m doing this week—I always find it humbling to realize just how much I’ve received from this place, and the family, friends and even strangers who call it home.
I always loved those warm summer nights during my childhood, and one could usually find me lying on the cool freshly-mown grass, gazing into a star-filled sky.
It was a simpler, more innocent time—a time when neighbors sat on their porches in the evenings, fireflies lit up the landscape, there was no homework for at least several months, and ice cream or watermelon was all we needed to stay cool. Life seemed just about as good as it could possibly get.
It was on nights like these that I recall watching my favorite star Antares, its ruddy glow shimmering through the summertime haze that always seemed to hang over the Coursen’s house to the south.
Antares marks the heart of the celestial arachnid we know as Scorpius, the scorpion, one of the most recognizable constellations in all the heavens; I always enjoyed seeing the several stars outlining its claws at the top, and its long curving stellar tail and stinger, all accompanied by the ghostly band of the Milky Way.
Though life has changed much since those halcyon days of the late 1950s and early '60s, Antares remains a wonderful friend. Even today I enjoy watching Antares and Scorpius as they rise in the southeastern sky not long after dark. It’s amazing how just a quick glance at them floods my mind and my heart with such warm memories of that wonderful time in my life, even from in my current home in the Anza-Borrego Desert many miles—and many years—from my Pennsylvania roots.
What a marvelous time of year to leave one’s mundane worries behind, get out under a dark rural sky, and make lifelong friends with the stars.