"Seeing in the Dark," by
Rocky Hill Observatory Log, March 23, 1994: A half-dozen eight-year-olds line up to view the moon through the eighteen-inch telescope. As I watch each teeter on the top of the little stepladder and peer into the eyepiece, something remarkable happens: by the cold moonlight-- a sort of spotlight, painting an ill-focussed portrait of the moon on the eye, eye socket, and a bit of brow and cheek--each child seems transformed into an adult. Nini, red hair and freckles, becomes a woman in her forties, the prime of her considerable athleticism now past but her effervescent spirit unsubdued. Nion, a shy and appealing boy, is suddenly a tall and elegantly commanding adult who might be director of a foundation. Mischievous Kathryn is intent, capable, no-nonsense; in business for herself perhaps. My son looks only a bit under my present age. Poised and serious, he offers a vision of a time when I myself have become a memory. I am reminded that everything we see in the sky belongs in the past, and that children in their similarities to us and their differences from us embody our concept of the future. We elders fall away into the past, like leaves from trees in autumn, but the young fall from us, too, their shouts of glee and apprehension echoing back as they dive toward the depths of the future.