I was heading home; eastbound on the long stretch of I-94 through Montana. I saw a sign for a rest area two miles ahead. I thought to myself, “I’ll stop there.” After driving for a really long time that day and well into the night, I needed to pull over to rest; maybe stretch my legs for a bit.
I started contemplating the things I need to get done yet this summer on the outside of my house. I considered the date. We’re already halfway through August. Fall comes in September, less than six weeks away, and brings with it cooler weather - then winter’s cold and I won’t be able to complete my outdoor work this year.
I shook my head in disbelief. Where did summer go? I really need to get on the stick and get those projects done. “I should have started earlier,” I said out loud, talking to myself. Then answered, “Yes, you should have.” Talking to yourself is one thing - but a conversation? I must be tired.
As a cluster of lights went streaking by outside the passenger window, I said, “And I should have taken that exit for that rest area.” Not a problem, the GPS shows there’s another rest area in...seventy-eight miles? Yikes! I’m not going to make it that far!
Exit 117 was just ahead; the turnoff for Hathaway, Montana. I could turn around there and go back to the westbound rest area. I started laughing. Hathaway - like Jane Hathaway. Do you remember her? She was Mr. Drysdale’s assistant on the television sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies; a level headed liaison between his constant scheming; his love of money - and reality.
Jane was always dressed professionally in a business suite. A skirt and a jacket, and she was never without her clutch purse held with both hands in front of her. Her hair was short with tight waves - never a hair out of place. A very practical woman in every aspect except her car.
I loved her car; a 1963 Dodge Polara convertible. “I’m going to own that car one day.” I would tell myself each time she slowly pulled into the Clampett’s driveway. - but for now, I turned my Subaru onto exit ramp 117.
At the end of the ramp, I decided to stop and pulled onto the shoulder. I rolled down my window and turned off the engine. It was almost two-o-clock in the morning. There wasn’t any traffic on the interstate and the wind was calm. Silence. Total silence and with the new moon approaching, it was very dark.
Within a few minutes, my eyes started to adjust to the darkness. I was far enough from the rest area to not be affected by the lights. There were no house, farm or street lights. Nothing. Just dark and stillness.
The sky was very dark, but not black. It was a steely blue, lighted only by the stars. As my eyes dilated, I could see more stars, then even more stars and still more. Totally content and at peace, I smiled. This is why they call Montana, The Big Sky State.
Leaning against my car, looking up in awe, I said, “Wow! There must be billions of them!” Big ones and little ones. Some very brilliant and some meek and dim. Some seemed closer, while others were more distant. Some shined as a solid light, others twinkled. Together, all the stars in the sky looked like glitter!
It’s overwhelming trying to comprehend that there are no two alike! Each star is unique. I tried to focus on just one; a small star sitting in a small dark field by itself, softly dancing. I wondered what it would be like to be that star, way out there on its own, in its own space, away from the others..
I imagined that star looked back at the Earth, seeing all the people and saying in awe, “Wow! There must be billions of them!” Big ones and little ones. Some very brilliant and some meek and dim. Some seem closer and others more distant. Some shined like a solid light while others twinkled. The star must have thought, it’s overwhelming trying to comprehend, there are no two people alike! Each one is unique.
I wondered if that star ever focused on just one person. A small person, sitting in a small dark area by themself, relaxed and gazing toward the heavens. Perhaps the star wondered what it would be like to be that person, way out there, on their own, in their own space away from the others.
I wondered if that star which I focused upon, was looking back, focused on me. A simple person, sitting at peace in a dark space on the side of the road near Hathaway, Montana.
No matter who, or where you are - you’re never alone, for someplace up there high above the Earth, a star is watching you, too.
You can comment or reach Tom at, Facebook.com/tom.palen.98
a broadcaster, pilot, writer, and our Guest Columnist!