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RAZZLE

From the constellation Leo a storm wave builds and rolls across the great void.  In its path is the planet Earth.  On the morning of November 17, 1998, and for the duration of this meteor storm as many as 10,000 "stars" will fall from the heavens every hour.  These are the Leonids, born from the tail of the ancient comet Temple-Tuttle and forever destined to sail silently through outer space.

November 4, 1998........0800

Gordon Ruckle pulls the boat out of the slip, swings her bow to the East, and Aqua Star goes to work.  Her cargo is a little lighter than usual this morning, just the two Hydro workers bound for a job on an outer island.  Today it's repair a line on Saturna, but tomorrow it could just as easily be a call to Gailiano, Mayne, Pender or Parker.

Once past the last beacon at the entrance to the boat basin the little ship picks up speed, her bow rising from the sea and breaking into a foamy grin.

......0930.....

Across the harbour George Herberg fills Genesis' water tank, while on board Pauline has the coffee on and Buddy is curled up on the settee, his nose two inches from the glowing diesel heater.

If he had it in him to experience the human thing call guilt, this dog would be awash in it now...Buddy knows the dock just outside and over the rail is crawling with those ugly squawking birds and he also knows whose job it is to chase them off.  But for some reason today is a different kind of dog day - Buddy is a long way from a bark, and his instincts are telling him to stay put - right where he is - in the safety of the warm and dry cabin.

Buddy falls asleep to the gentle sound of water pouring into the tank somewhere far below him.  Outside on the dock George coils the old garden hose up and puts it away.  He glances at the sky:  something is coming...for sure.

......a tempest of falling stars broke over the Earth (Agnes Clerke describing the Leonid meteor storm of 1833)......This year's storm may be the most impressive display in the last 30 years.  The world awaits night fall.

......NOON......

Razzle stretches out on the sun warmed planks of the old wharf, her soft white belly soaking up the heat until she is overwhelmed and goes back to sleep.  The dog dreams of more boat jobs, trotting after Dave around the docks and getting to see all her old friends...all over again.  There is also something else frolicking in her head; tiny lights that make her ears tickle and eyelids flutter while she snoozes.  Razzle rubs at the tingle with an automatic paw.

If feels good to be a Beagle today.

But as our friends Razzle and Buddy sleep the day away, scientists around the globe are struggling to predict the intensity of the coming storm.  Satellites are re-oriented in their orbits to avoid the imminent onslaught of meteors while huge brains study formulas and 'Impact Probabilities'.

Razzle rolls onto her back...steam rises from her chest.

                             ......................................

plc Barnacle

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