Living in Florida affords me the opportunity to witness some truly beautiful moments.
This past Saturday evening was one.
There was a NASA shuttle launched from the Cape at 8:47 p.m.
Watching a shuttle launch in the daytime is undoubtedly impressive.
Seeing it when your world is wrapped in darkness, under cover of a starlit sky, is breathtaking.
My vantage point this time was a long, wooden dock that extended several yards into the Halifax River.
Looking southeast that night, everything was a shadow or a silhouette.
Expansive oak trees shared the riverbank with tall palm trees. Condominiums were sentries, higher than the trees.
Cars were parked along the edge of the road and in the small picnic area beside the river. People came in droves, from those cars, to gather as close to the river as possible, looking for an unobstructed skyward view.
We were lemming-like in our march to the edge.
Keeping track of the time and listening to portable radios, several in the crowd loudly announced the take-off.
You could feel everyone holding their breath.
The tension... anticipation... waiting for the white glow to be visible from some sixty miles south of us.
It took two or three minutes before the light began to show.
The crowd pointed as one and announced to all,
"There! There it is!" Applauding. Cheering. Whistling.
The brilliant white light crawled across the horizon before it began its upward mushrooming spread. Slowly.
The clouds began to glow.
From the bottom center of the sky-horizon
a white beacon emerged. The giant candle struggled upward, then leaned slightly east, toward our left... higher.
Ever. Slowly. Higher.
Half-way up our window view of the sky... the shuttle seemed to shift to a higher gear... moving steadily faster. Moving higher and faster, leaving a long, bright streak behind it.
It outran the mushroom glow.
It slid into the black velvet cover over earth.
The yellow fire from the boosters marked its progress upward. Until, as star-tiny specs, they were released and fell softly.
Some of us lingered.
Straining to see one more glimpse before turning away.
Wishing a safe journey to the brave souls travelling so far.
Wishing even harder, for a safe return home.