As I crossed the road to pick up my newspaper in predawn cold, a light overhead caught my eye. High above the field across the road was a mere sliver of a moon with an impossibly large bright star just beneath it. Half-awake or half-asleep, I don’t know which, I stared at this apparition for several seconds, then went inside to get my camera, which doesn’t have a good telephoto feature, so of course I couldn’t get a good picture.
I went back inside and did what any reasonable person would do under these circumstances: uploaded my bad picture to Facebook and waited for someone to tell me what I was seeing in the sky. Luckily, there are several early birds among my Facebook friends and I quickly got a reply from my brother saying “That’s Venus, not a star.” I vaguely remembered reading something about Venus in the newspaper but it didn’t seem as exciting as the lunar eclipse so I didn’t put it on my schedule of “interesting things to see in the night sky.”
The faintest hint of light began to spread, even though the sun hadn’t yet risen. Some movement in the sky made me wonder if Venus had decided to fly over my house, then I recognized one of those ubiquitous and mysterious contrails bisecting the sky. Except this one was bright pink. I walked over to the highest point on our property — still no sun. I spied another plane on the opposite side of our house, flying a parallel heading, leaving behind a puffy pink vapor trail of its own. I watched both planes as they disappeared behind the forest. The sky was gradually brightening to a whiter shade of pale.
I went back inside and reported these new phenomena on my Facebook platform, describing the appearance of pink contrails without the color enhancement of sun. My brother responded “The sun has already risen for those planes; remember, the earth is round.” My first thought was: “No one likes an early morning know-it-all.” And those contrails have been widely, and wildly, debated in various media by, I’m guessing, those who believe in fringe science and fake paranormal activities. Theories range from sinister weather modification using poisonous chemicals or attempting psychological modification of those observing the “chemtrails.” For the record, I ate a hearty breakfast and felt just fine.
At daybreak the next morning, I was so startled by a vision directly overhead that I dropped the newspaper in the middle of the road. An enormous hot air balloon floated just above me. The colorful inflatable seemed to be moving slowly enough that I could follow it, so I snatched my camera and ran up the hill in hot pursuit. It disappeared behind the forest line, then a flash of unexpected color to the right grabbed my attention.
Mind you, this incline is so steep that bicyclists struggle with it and I’ve never gotten all the way up without serious huffing and puffing. I spied my target passing the farm on top of the ridge, then it vanished again behind some trees.
Without considering that it was trespassing, I ran across my neighbor’s property, stumbling as I left mowed lawn and reached rough meadow. What a magnificent view — that must be the city of Waterbury in the distance — and there it was! I took one faraway and too-dark photo as it drifted soundlessly out of sight.
Jo Ann Jaacks lives in Litchfield and is the publicist for St. Michael’s-Litchfield.