Tag Archives: holidays

Obscure Holidays: Near Miss Day, March 23

AsteroidIn this installment of Obscure Holidays, I present to you “Near Miss Day,” today on March 23rd. Apparently, this day was established to celebrate March 23rd, 1989, when an asteroid the size of a mountain just barely slipped past earth, passing within 500,000 miles of the planet. This holiday seems especially relevant, as some of you might remember the asteroid in mid-February that passed within 17,200 miles of earth. So in actuality, it seems this recent asteroid probably deserves its own holiday more than the old one, but ah well–for now, we’ll go with March 23rd.

It wasn’t an easy task to find a fitting poem for this particular day, but I think I found one that’s appropriate enough. It’s called “The Age of Dinosaurs” by James Scruton, and it’s a fairly recent poem (2001) I discovered on the Poetry Foundation’s website. It might not be about asteroids per se, but it’s close enough, and I quite like the poem anyway:

***
The Age of Dinosaurs
by James Scruton
***
There are, of course, theories
about the wide-eyed, drop-jawed
fascination children have for them,
about how, before he’s learned
his own phone number or address,
a five-year-old can carry
like a few small stones
the Latin tonnage of those names,
the prefixes and preferences
for leaf or meat.
***
My son recites the syllables
I stumble over now,
sets up figures as I did
years ago in his prehistory.
Here is the green ski slope
of a brontosaur’s back,
there a triceratops in full
gladiator gear. From the arm
of a chair a pterodactyl
surveys the dark primeval carpet.
***
Each has disappeared from time
to time, excavated finally
from beneath a cabinet
or the sofa cushions, only
to be buried again among its kind
in the deep toy chest,
the closed lid snug as earth.
The next time they’re brought out
to roam the living room
another bone’s been found
***
somewhere, a tooth or fragment
of an eggshell dusted off,
brushing away some long-held notion
about their life-span
or intelligence, warm blood
or cold. On the floor
they face off as if debating
the latest find, what part
of which one of them
has been discovered this time.
***
Or else they stand abreast
in one long row, side
by scaly side, waiting to fall
like dominoes, my son’s
tossed tennis ball a neon yellow
asteroid, his shadow a dark cloud
when he stands, his fervor for them
cooling so slowly he can’t feel it—
the speed of glaciers, maybe,
how one age slides into the next.

With all this talk of asteroids, I’d suggest getting in some poetry reading while you still can. After all, you never know when a giant flaming rock might cut your reading days short. Although recently, I’ve heard talk of scientists trying to find new ways to deflect asteroids, like with laser beams and whatnot…I wonder if any of that stuff would actually work out? Anyway, if you wanna hear a funny song about dinosaurs/asteroids, check this one out on youtube.

I had to put this here.

I had to put this here.

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Obscure Holidays: International Earth Day

earth-dayNot to be confused with the more well-known U.S. Earth Day (April 22), this is international Earth day (which actually makes more sense…after all, isn’t earth day about celebrating the entire earth?). Anyway, this particular Earth Day is also known as “Sun-Earth Day” and was started in 1970 (incidentally, the exact same year that U.S. Earth day started). It is always celebrated during the spring equinox, which happens to be today! You don’t have to look hard to find nature-related poems, and here’s one that many of you might know:

***
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
***
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
***
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
***
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
***
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I thought this one especially fit for celebrating nature–as it points out, you don’t actually have to be out in nature to appreciate its beauty. Sure, it helps to be out in the fields, but if you’re too lazy to leave your couch, at least you still have your imagination to conjure it up for you. And what better way to spark your imagination than with poetry? Find more Wordsworth poems here at the Poetry Foundation (you can bet that nearly all of them have something to do with nature). But you can also find nature poems here at Poets.org. And of course, Robert Frost is another famous nature poet (I had to hold myself back from posting another of his poems this time, but I thought it’d be nice to give some other poets a turn in the spotlight). Still, you can read many of his poems here as well.
***
So Happy Sun-Earth day! And no matter how impressive your powers of imagination, I’d still suggest stepping outside and appreciating nature in its true form, especially if you happen to have a field of daffodils located conveniently nearby.
daffodils

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