We arrived out to the South Chicago countryside before noon on Thanksgiving. I had to impress upon Mikey the importance of not leaving the table before everyone else had finished eating, something he found difficult being the only child in attendance. He pushed the mashed potato around his plate with a fork but, recently captivated by all things pumpkin, managed to put away three slices of pumpkin pie before the day was out. We drew initials with whipped cream on the top of each slice with Mikey helping to spell each name, “But look, there’s no room on my slice for M! How about P for Pumpkin?”
We finished our meal, the afternoon drew on and family members dispersed to hunt for a place to settle. Some of us chattered and cleaned up, others laid out on couches and chairs for afternoon naps.
As the sky became darker, my husband and I wrapped ourselves up in coats and scarves to venture outside into the cold. We had the camera and tripod with us, and the intention of making photographs of the night sky. For a science project about light that he was doing in one of his college classes.
There only seemed to be a few bright stars scattered across the darkness, until our eyes adjusted. We stood close to one another, it was black above; I looked up and blinked. There were infinite stars.
You can’t see any of this in the city, the sky isn’t as large or as deep as it was out there.
We ended up with a little motion blur on even our best photographs that night: from pressing the shutter for a long exposure with shivering hands or perhaps a slight wind pushing at the tripod that was balanced on uneven ground. A few photos had planes flying overhead, their lights making streaks across the frame.
My husband said to me that we should do this
every time we visit his parents in the countryside,
make photographs of the night sky.
We caught the train home the following morning, leaving a little later than we’d hoped and rushing with our luggage over the iced and salted station. The train car was warm, we stripped off our coats and watched through the windows. On our way back to Chicago our fellow passengers chattered in the background and the fields slowly gave way to streets and skyscrapers.