Colored leaves and acorns are not the only objects that fall in autumn. Five of the 12 principal meteor showers occur in October and November. Nobody knows why.
These showers—the Draconids, the Orionids, the Taurids, the Leonids, and the Andromedids—are not the most spectacular meteor showers. Only one, the Orionids, usually offers 15 meteors per hour.
So when I saw a shooting star in the predawn darkness on October 24, I didn’t make much of it. But 5 minutes later, when another flashed across the sky, I realized that this was the Orionids.
I’ve stayed up late to see the Perseids, the most prolific meteor shower of all. They frightened my 9-year-old granddaughter so much that I had to take her inside. Perhaps it had occurred to her, as it has to me, that although we look up to see them, it makes just as much sense to say that we are looking down at them, clinging desperately to the grass in the backyard lest we, too, fall into a dark and infinite well, from which even Lassie can not save us.
This chance encounter with the Orionids was better. There was no plan, no lawn chair or blankets to spread out in the backyard, no tedium, no terror.
It was a surprise, an unexpected gift