A clear cold night closed in as we prepared to brave it. The car had gotten stuck in a snow drift. Thankfully, the snow had finally stopped, but we were still stranded. Bob and I had begun this adventure to rekindle – how ironic that we found ourselves in a snow laden crystal wasteland, quite literally cold as ice. How would we “spark” in this predicament?
I was the winter weather lightweight. Where I’m from if we see two snow flakes fall we close schools and businesses, and buy all the milk and bread in the store; we shut it down until the roads are safe again. Where Bob was from a snow day was just another winter day and life continued on as it normally does. He had checked the forecast and was sure we could make it. I don’t think that he was wrong. I just think that sometimes Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and even our most modern scientific analysis cannot predict that.
So there we sat in the bucket seats, covered in the blankets we had in the back of the car for just such an emergency, trying not to notice the waning gas needle indicating the last of the mild warmth the car was still generating, and hoping our staticky 911 call had provided enough information to the operator to dispatch help to us.
We settled in for whatever would come holding hands under the layers and staring hopefully through the glass sunroof. We probably should have closed the cover to protect from heat loss, but the night was so beautifully clear now with stars brightly shimmering.
Perhaps we were seeking their heat. It was the last good warm thing in our frozen space that we could fix our attention on – the warm thing we could imagine saving us. We were reminded of a warm summer night 13 years ago when we star-gazed and decided to make our love official.
For distraction we tried desperately to pick out familiar constellations. But, we were far from home and the diamond laden velvet sky offered no familiarity. We had to become like the ancestors who had first peered at the heavens trying to find the familiar.
“Look!” Bob said, “there…”
He pointed to the left of our sunroof-framed view. Maybe it was an eastern view…it was hard to remember direction.
“See that Big Cat in the sky?
I laughed. That was my nickname for Bob, my Big Cat.
“Yes, I see it.”
“What constellation do you think it is?”
“How should I know??? I can’t even pick out the Big Dipper!”
“That’s an asterism, not a constellation.”
Again I chuckled, that was my Big Cat, my amateur astronomer. I smiled at him. “Well, tell me, what constellation is it?”
“It is Panthera Aethra, of course.”
“What? You are making that up!”
“No, it’s the Sky Panther…see…?” He pulled me in close so I could try to see from his view, down the sight line of his arm. “See…there are the star points that are the ear tips…and there’s the chin…the eyes…”
“I see it!”
“Then you know.”
“You know that we will be alright, the Sky Panther has appeared.”
“Panthera Aethra” I whispered.
I know he made that up, but in that moment I believed…and we were ok. We had the heat of the stars to spark us.