I got up at five o’clock this morning, dressed, and turned on the oven to preheat to 400F. The 4:30 A.M. train had already disturbed a most interesting dream in which I had nearly finished my time machine and was adding the final touches to the set of equations which would guide me through the universe. Now I would never know how I solved the problem.
I started the first pot of coffee and went out on the patio to check out the predawn skies. The new LED camp lantern that Jack had brought last night cast a pale white light across the edges of the last blooms on the forsythia. The small branches and pieces of log that I had laid out in the fire pit last night looked like a black rat’s nest of coarse hair. I hoped there weren’t any big spiders sheltering there as I shoved a waxed lighter underneath the twigs. In the southern skies above the rooftop, Orion was moving into the southwest with Sirius following. Cassiopeia stood on the end of her “W” just to the right of the pecan tree that blocks the northeastern quadrant of sky. The propane torch lighted off the wood and soon a bright yellow flame was crackling cheerfully and throwing out heat. I stood there and rubbed my hands together; the temperature was hovering in the neighborhood of 45F.
Inside, the oven was up to temperature, so I mixed up a double recipe of blueberry batter, adding quite a bit of flax seed meal for extra nutrient value, and filled the six cups on my Texas-sized muffin pan. Twenty two minutes later I would have fresh hot bread which would synchronize nicely with the second pot of coffee and the arrival of my early morning friends.
By 7 o’clock I had three extra mouths munching on muffins and four cups to keep filled. Some of our group couldn’t make it this morning due to prior commitments. The rest of us sat around and discussed our plans for today as well as what went on yesterday. Some of us are traveling soon, and we pondered the best places where one might find a fabulous crab cake or an extraordinary lobster roll in Boston.
Shortly after we had opted for a second muffin and a third cup of coffee, Brian arrived complete with chain saws, trailer, and his giant, forty foot ladder. He and his crew were to trim a path through our over-sized Ash tree so that I can align my computer controlled telescope with the north celestial pole. It was still rather dark, so I could use my powerful pocket laser to show him what limbs needed to be trimmed. The last limb was so high that even with the forty foot ladder, the man with the saw had to rope himself to the tree and climb another fifteen feet to reach the leafy tangle of limbs that blocked my only view of Polaris. While this spectacle of high-wire acrobatics was entertaining, we were all exceedingly nervous as the four inch, fifteen foot long piece came free and swung back on its control lines. Relieved of its weight, the part attached to the tree swung up at least two feet, coming within a hair’s breath of leaving the end of the ladder hanging in thin air.
Ten o’clock and all is quiet. The raucous buzz of saws, the piles of fresh-smelling limbs, the people have scattered in their various directions. The sky has turned a deep, autumnal blue, and my measurements show that the telescope pier will find Polaris in middle of a nice, clear patch of sky. Now I can follow Jupiter up into the heavens, locate Uranus, watch for Andromeda, and say goodbye to the little smoke ring in the northern constellation of Lyra, my favorite planetary nebula, as we move into winter and Vega passes around to the other side of the sun.
I can hardly wait to set up the telescope tonight. Now if only the skies will remain clear.