It started on a sunny Wednesday in September. My husband called me down the hill and into our barn; he directed me to look up into the rafters.

“Tell me when you see it.”

I peer up looking for raccoons, or snakes, or a giant wasp nest, or bats. There’s history here, it could have been any of them. It takes more than a minute for me to see it. It’s a piece of bright blue sky visible through the roof. The curling edges of the hole are flattened inward. Something has broken in.

This is how some horror movies start. We split up to investigate.

We find a fresh chip in the cement floor; it’s a little smaller than my palm. What broke in through our roof. A hailstone? The tale end of Hurricane Florence just passed through town. A really huge hailstone might tear open the aluminum roof, chip the cement floor, and melt away.

It’s seems like pretty long odds, though.

Several days later my husband comes inside and tells me to hold out my hand and close my eyes. It’s a testament to the depth of my trust that I eyeball him suspiciously before closing my eyes. He drops a something heavy into my palm. It’s a stone and incredibly dense for the size.

I’m holding a piece of the sky in my hand.

The heavy Meteorite punched through the aluminum roof of our barn at a low angle (about 50 degrees). It was traveling somewhere between 11km/sec to 72km/sec (according to Wikepedia). For those playing along at home that’s between 24,606 miles per hour and 161,059 miles per hour.

It ricocheted up of the floor, chewing a hole in it and slammed into the back wall about 30 feet away. It dinged that wall, bounced off at an angle, tore a hole in the workbench and slammed into the floor. He picked it up from floor where it had rested unnoticed for days. The cement floor is discolored where the heavy stone finally landed.

It must have been incredibly hot; shredded wood from the workbench is now embedded in the metal. It’s heavy, too; it weighs 1 lb and 2.5 oz or 524grams. The density suggests it’s iron and nickel. Yes, we performed a water displacement test. Science is cool. It’s not radioactive, but is magnetic. It shifts a compass needle at a distance of 6.5 feet or 1.67 meters.

We suspect this Space Rock was part of the September Epsilon Perseid Shower which peaked last week. The meteor showers are produced when the earth passes through a stream of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The particles are ejected by the comet as it travels along its 133-year orbit. Some of the particles have been part of this cloud for a thousand years. Now, it’s sitting on our kitchen shelf.

I wonder at its age. And marvel at the odds of a meteor hitting my barn or house or anyone’s barn or house, for that matter. It turns out someone already calculated those odds. Math is cool. The chances of your house or my barn being struck by a meteorite are 1 in 3,921,910,064,328. The chances of finding a meteorite that didn’t hit a house or barn are pretty long, too. Experienced meteorite hunters can go years between finds; my husband just went out to clean up the workbench.

In case you’re wondering, the odds of being struck by lightening are 1 in 700,000. The odds of winning the Mega Millions are 1 in 302.5 million, of winning the Powerball 1 in 292.2 million.

It is amazing that nothing in our cluttered barn was struck except the corner of the workbench. It could have easily gone differently. It would only a taken a micro-adjustment in trajectory to blast into our home at 24,606 mph. We’d be telling a different story.

This trajectory started a thousand years before a sunny Wednesday morning in September. A thousand, thousand small changes, tiny shifts brought this stone gently close enough to feel the tug of Earth’s gravity.

My husband called me into our barn and directed me to look up into the rafters.

“Tell me when you see it.”

I think about a stone floating weightless in the cold for a thousand years, left behind by a comet. I imagine what it might feel like to wait 133 years for the return of your comet, to watch unexpected planets swing into view and away again. I wonder at the immense silence.

“Tell me when you see it.”

Think of a stone to pulling slowly away from the group and flinging itself down through atmosphere, burning and melting all the way. I wonder if the change felt like an ending or a new beginning.

It was a Wednesday in September.

“Tell me when you see it.”

The hole in our roof was a thousand years in the making. It was burst open by part of a comet’s tail made of iron and nickel and traveling at least 24,606 miles per hour. It could have landed anywhere; it could have stayed suspended in space and landed nowhere.

“Tell me when you see it.”

I wonder if this moment in my kitchen is the end of a thousand year trajectory or only a minor adjustment in speed and direction.

“Tell me when you see it.”

I wonder at the tiny shifts in our own lives, brief as a whisper compared to this meteorite. Tiny moments of trajectory that bring a chance meeting, a new article in an in-box, a song that ignites a spark and feeds a fire. Imagine the odds that carry us close enough to a new path that we feel its gravitational tug. Choices and chances for a change of direction. Life is cool. Imagine listening to that tug of gravity.

Compute the odds of a new path and the odds of remaining in space. Where do you want to wind up. What trajectory will take you there.

“Tell me when you see it.”

Darwinian Gardener, Creative Educator, and sometimes Writer Person.

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