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I can see the pulsing red yellow and white lights of Wallops Flight Facility from my bed; I can also see miles of marsh and bay.

Sand kicked by the storm lies on the pier below me. The wind’s still way up.

Above, whenever the clouds part, astonishingly clear stars emerge, and it occurs to me that tomorrow’s dark clear early morning skies (we’ll be freezing under them along with a crowd of other people to see Antares lift off) might yield not merely a shattering rocket blast, but Leonids!

This cosmic amazement will happen with the Chesapeake flowing at our feet. If UD can for once in her life actually dress warmly enough to stand around for awhile in cold weather, she might be in for the sight of her life.

*********************

At tea yesterday, we talked to a disappointed scientist. Her muscle-growth experiment, part of Antares’ cargo, has been compromised by the delays.

I called the tearoom Thursday morning, fully expecting to be told that – in all this offseason chill – they were closed.

“Are we holding tea,” said a very British voice. “Now that’s a question.” I loved her voice; I loved the way she said Now that’s a question.

“Hold on. Let me ask the breakfast guests. Anyone here coming to tea at three? … Okay, enough guests are returning for tea, so yes, we’ll do it.”

In driving wind and rain, we walked through a half-English, half-Japanese garden to the inn’s front door and were greeted at the tea table by a young woman wearing a gray t-shirt with dripping black letters that read Walking Dead. The four-course meal was strictly British and just the thing for the bleak winter setting. Talking to the scientist and her colleagues made Antares much more real.

On our way out, as we readied ourselves for the tree-bending storm, I congratulated the innkeeper on her gardens, which shined through the gloom. “I love to garden,” she said, with the same flat, casually disclosing tone I’d loved on the phone, “but I can’t do it anymore. Can’t bend.” She lifted one of her pant legs slightly. “I call her Edna. Prosthetic. Cartilage cancer. I knew something was wrong and went to a local idiot here who dismissed it as arthritis. So I went to Johns Hopkins and they knew right away and did the surgery right away.”

“I always say,” replied UD, “that it’s very much worth living within reasonable range of a major metropolitan center.”

“Goodness, yes.”

“If I lived here, I’d help with the garden.”

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