In late December an unusual comet—Comet 2I/Borisov—brushed by our sun. “The comet’s icy core is only a mile or so wide, but its surrounding cloud of gas and dust is many times larger than Earth.” (New York Times, Dec. 7, 2019.)
This is a pretty big deal since Comet 2I/Borisov is only the second object from beyond our solar system that has ever been identified in our neighbourhood. It’s been traveling forever and has no intention of stopping.
Such wonders put our own brief human existence into perspective and it’s good to have a comet popping into our lives from time to time.
Meanwhile, here in the Cove the blue jays greedily gobble up sunflower seeds at the feeder, coyotes howl in early morn, exotic ice patterns grow on porch windows, and shoreline trees tumble into the sea. As for we the people, we have been focused on events of the season: the Living Nativity, Christmas decorating, rehearsals, concerts, caroling, cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping, traveling, visiting, jigsaw puzzling, and most importantly, eating.
While these events cannot compare to the visit of an interstellar comet, they are important nevertheless. They are the stories of our lives and they deserve to be noted. Which makes me wonder: Are diaries still given as Christmas presents? Diaries were common gifts in my childhood and I still have a few in my possession. Each day there was barely enough space to write two or three sentences, and apparently I wasn’t keen on putting down any interesting personal thoughts in a tiny book with a flimsy lock, nor do I find any mention of world events or politics, or comets. I read the entry for January 28, 1961: “Mom got up today and fixed meals. This afternoon we had a science test. Ni (sister) and I made fudge after supper. It never got hard.”
Not great literature! But even a few words can be loaded with meaning and carry me back to the bleakness of a cold Alberta winter… my mother’s illnesses, playing board games in the long dark evenings, music lessons, my brother staying home from school with a boil on his chest, a social studies exam, basketball after school, being chased by boys with water pistols…
I’m glad I have these old diaries to jog my memory. And I’m glad I have this Buzz column as another kind of diary. Maybe my thoughts—and your thoughts—aren’t earth-shattering, but they’re our thoughts, and as humans we’re able to write them down on paper and store them in a box for fifty years if we want to.
Did any of the children out on the road waiting for the school bus get a diary for Christmas? I hope so. Maybe some of them keep a blog or describe their lives on Facebook. Probably some of them even know about the visit of Comet 2I/Borisov. Kids are smart these days.