Star Struck

A few years ago, I took a walk with my son and grandson through Historic Fourth Ward Park — a beautiful wildflower and indigenous plant heaven with a watershed pond smack in the middle of Midtown Atlanta. We walked and walked and gaped in surprise at the loveliness in front of us. And isn’t it funny how many “native” plants you’ve never seen before? Humans do have a bottomless hunger for the new, don’t we? — so often ignoring what’s right in front of us.

After resetting my expectations, I wanted to sit on the steps a bit and get a fuller view, and then a thing happened — I glanced down. And then? Sprinkled across the steps were metallic stars and equally delightful shapes in every color just sitting there glittering at me.

At first I wondered why someone had left their treasure behind, but I soon realized the answer — of course they had left them for me, and for any other passerby who needed a moment of joy.

As summer continued, I made two additional trips to Atlanta, again charmed by walks and hikes and exploring with no agenda other than Mac’s nap time. We could go anywhere, and indeed we went everywhere — parks and woodlands and rivers and bamboo forests and streams cleansed the soul and sharpened the vision, and it was bliss.

And surprisingly, the stars never stopped appearing, showing themselves on the Georgia Tech campus, city streets, the Doll Cemetery, along river beaches and woods, at a roadside memorial, the waterfall park in Greenville, my Charlotte walking path, and even at Pawleys Island. I knew they were left for me — left for each of us — as a message to hold on, look high, laugh, eat good food, create, sharpen my sight, keep walking, keep acknowledging, keep dreaming.

Nine months later I bought a package of gold stars and we tossed them high on New Year’s Eve. Not surprisingly, there are still a gracious plenty between the planks of my kitchen table, and seeing one glint with the light as I walk past never fails to make me happy. And now since that very first 2020 sighting of the stars, they’ve just kept coming, usually where you’d least expect to see them, and other times when you need to see them most.

We are never as alone as we feel.