Monday, July 20, 2009

Gaia and Luna

I was three years old.

In the living room of my mother's cousin's home in Canada -- family vacation.

How often did a toddler's parents park her in front of a television set and command: Watch! Remember!

I remember it more vividly than I remember my high school graduation, my own wedding, the morning of September 11.

Of all the generations of homo sapiens who have lived on this planet, of all the generations who are yet to come, we are the ones who experienced this singular moment.

Our planet became no longer The World. Never just A World. Our World. A whole thing, one among many, and the only home for all of us.

In 2009 dollars, the entire Apollo program cost about 20% of what we've spent waging war against a country that never attacked us, and hunting for one contemptible criminal who remains free.

I have a secret ambition. In sixty years, I want to be that crochety old broad, that ornery centarian to whom reporters flock for The Interview.

The old woman on her nineteenth-century farm who remembers The Day of the twentieth. Of the millenium.

Will one of those reporters drop in by video link from her home on Mars?

Do we have the greatness of will to make that happen?


  1. Thanks for this post, Heather. There was another 3 yr old whose parents had her sit on a scratchy carpet in a tiny Austin,TX bungalow watching Uncle Walter (Cronkite) giddily announce that we...all of us... had landed on the moon. That night, my dad, an Air Force navigator, took us outside with star charts for the first of many, many nights where we marveled at worlds that lay beyond us.

    I wept upon hearing of Walter Cronkite's passing, but know that my Dad extended a welcoming hand to Mr. Cronkite from somewhere up in the stars.

  2. I was a 10-year old with an extensive insect collection and a 1960's chemistry set. I already knew I was going to be a scientist. An Atlas rocket could not have pulled me away from the telly that day.

  3. 1960's chemistry set.

    The kind that could actually BLOW SHIT UP. Also, create VERY IMPRESSIVE STENCH.

    Not the kind that makes water change color. Yawn.

    If we really wanted to make more kids scientists, we would give them the tools to blow their own fingernails off. Also, let them catch and keep things that bite.

  4. I knew I could count on SOMEONE to mention this>

    I was 9. My dad made a point of being sure the family was together and in front of the old console TV so we could watch it.

    We had an old short wave radio that my dad had a license for and we went down and listened to the chatter all night long.

    The little coal storage room underneath the stairs that we all crowded into to listen hopefully for some voice from above.

    My husband is a stargazer; a talent he has generously passed on to our child.

  5. I've been lurking for a long time, but had to comment on this entry because my experience was so similar. I was four, and well remember being told to stay awake because I'd remember this for the rest of my life. And I have.

  6. Heather: You were never a toddler in the purest sense. I remember too well that evening in Burlington, Ontario with the Austrian-Canadian cousins; also (same period of your age - 3 to 5) the time we we were returning from somewhere and looking for a place to stop and eat; you pointed out a restaurant and I said we were not dressed for that type of place. You said you were because you were wearing a "very nice Winnie the Pooh Shirt". Also, again returning from another expedition and suddenly we smelled something unacceptable and advised everyone to check their shoes for doggie poop. You said it wasn't you because "I smell nice, Kinda Froggy".


  7. I was eight, and sitting on the carpet in my grandparents' living room in tiny Spencer, SD (pop 376), watching Neil Armstrong with my GREAT-grandmother, then age 98.

    Great-Grandma observed mildly that she'd sure seen modes of human transportation change a lot over her lifetime. In complete 'Stories from Lake Wobegon' style as the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, Mamie said this completely without irony.

    As if she expected that over the course of things, we'd go from horse and buggy to moon rockets.

  8. PrairieK9, my experience was similar to yours. I was 13, and at my Grannie's house in Texas. She was born in the 19th century as well, although a bit younger than your great grandmother (1898). The changes that generation saw!



I've enabled the comments for all users; if you are posting as "anonymous" you MUST sign your comment. Anonymous unsigned comments will be deleted. Trolls, spammers, and litigants will be shot.