My Close Encounter

Last night the sky was as clear as I have ever seen it.

The stars danced across the heavens like white hot sparks and though they were billions of miles away, I swear you could hear them crackle through the void of space.

But there was something else.

Toward our south, across the border with Iowa, a long line of eerie red light pulsated from horizon to horizon.

I woke my wife.

“Something is out there,” I whispered.

“What?” she whispered in return.

“Extraterrestrials,” I said then explained what I saw.

She raised her head and looked out the window.

“Windmills,” she said then explained what would happen if I woke her again.

I hate it when she does that.

She is all too willing to crush the miraculous with the mundane and that worries me because I prefer a world where wonders thrive. Not just because such a place is more vibrant and interesting – but because the mundane scares the crap out of me.

Everyone who lives in the country knows the horrors of the mundane. We see it every day in the gore of road-kill and the patrol of vultures. At night our sleep is punctuated by the mad cries of coyotes.

Mother Nature may create beautiful things but she is all too willing to slash them apart and yawn at the terror of innocents.

It is why I yearn for the miraculous and am willing to believe in extraterrestrials – because if they exist then other things exist as well and while there may be more things to fear than we know, it stands to reason there are more things to watch over us than we are willing to admit.

Still my wife had planted the seed of doubt. So later in the day, I cross the road to discuss it with my neighbor Ray, an old and wise sheep farmer.

I found him talking to Fiona.

Normally, these two do not get along. Ray wears his MAGA cap whenever she stops by and she refuses to get out of her Prius in his yard but when they speak of sheep and wool, you would think them the best of friends.

“What’s up?” Ray asks.

I am loathe to change the conversation but there is no other way to explain my presence.

“Did either of you see the strange lights in the sky last night?” I ask.

“Extraterrestrials,” Fiona says.

Ray nods in agreement.

I am stunned that they agree.

“We are all doomed,” Ray tells me, “if we don’t stop them at the border.”

Fiona cut him off. Her adamance is classic Fiona.

“We definite are NOT doomed,” she says.

“How can you be so sure?” I ask.


Ray scoffs.

“It is about progress and you,” she says pointing an accusing finger at Ray’s nose, “choose to be on the wrong side of it. Once humans are as advanced as extraterrestrials, we will be as peaceful as they.”

“So we should welcome them?” I ask.

“We should,” she said with absolute confidence.

Ray isn’t too sure.

“I don’t think history has a destination,” he says. “It is more like nature and does whatever it feels like doing and I don’t trust either nature nor history.”

“That’s your problem,” Fiona tells him, “You don’t trust anything.”

“I trust Thucydides,” he says, “2,500 years ago, he wrote ‘The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must’ and you can bank on that.”

There was to be no end to their bickering, so I went home in time to greet my wife as she returned from work.

I told her what Ray and Fiona had told me.

“That is ridiculous,” she said, “what you all saw was the aviation lights on windmills.”

Then she added, “I got no problem with windmills as long as they stay across the border in Iowa.  I wouldn’t trust them around here.  They have a bad history as neighbors.”

Author: Almost Iowa

37 thoughts on “My Close Encounter”

  1. Welcome back! And I think your two friends do a great job of representing our current political divide. I never trust absolutes from either side, because honestly, who knows how things are actually going to turn out? Certainly not me. But I do know that I need to believe in things I can’t see, or understand….it’s what makes life bearable!

    1. Jay and Fiona do represent their respective tribes but then there is this

      when they speak of sheep and wool, you would think them the best of friends.

      So I guess there is hope.

      1. There is…let’s hope for lots of “sheep and wool!” Finding common ground is a good thing, and it can happen when we try, I believe.

  2. It’s not the extra-terrestrials I worry about. It’s the terrestrials who are behind those windmills, and all the other bits of technology we’re being tempted with. Have you read the stories about Alexa’s evil laugh? You should hear what the windmills are saying…

    1. You are right that we have reason to fear terrestrials more than extraterrestrials, especially those who live across state lines. Heck, even county lines. I am not too sure about a lot of folks in Mower County.

      And yes, I have heard about Alexa’s laugh. I get the same from our smart water heater.

  3. What

    Your wife should not be so quick to dismiss extraterrestrials. Of COURSE they are windmills. But has she thought about who is up inside them turning the red lights on and off? Lulling the natives to sleep?………..ET ‘s not so friendly cousins.

    1. My favorite political comments comes from something Mao said during an interview by a French journalist. The journalist asked him what he thought of the French Revolution.

      Mao replied, “It’s too early to tell.”

      Whenever anyone asks my opinion on current affairs, I tell them I will get back to them in twenty years.

    1. I tease Fiona that her progressive view of history is biblical, moving in a line from Genesis to the Apocalypse. Ray’s view is more like the Greeks, everything is cyclical (think Ecclesiastics).

  4. I would believe the alien abduction thing. That’s exactly what I suspected. If you think it’s mundane in the country, you should try New England. These people left England in search of the mundane.

    1. Fat fingers hit reply instead of enter. Of maybe it was the aliens scanning my phone. In any case, it’s good to see you showing up in my inbox.

    2. I recently read an article about UFO sightings. The author stated that there has been a precipitous drop-off in sightings since the advent of the cell phone camera. Apparently UFOs, along with Big Foot and Nessie have gotten suddenly shy. It happens.

      1. Well, our phones all have GPS. Maybe the aliens are reading those signals and avoiding us. I’m sure that makes sense to someone.

  5. So nice to see a post from you, Greg! I’ve missed you. I like your take on the miraculous and extraterrestrials – there may be more to fear but more to watch over us, too. I’d say that’s fair and balanced with a side of whimsy. -Molly

  6. Lol! Great post. “Windmills,” she explained, then explained what would happen if I woke her again….. I am still cracking up. 😂😂

    I don’t think we’re the only life form in the universe. I’ve often thought my husband was from another planet! He doesn’t even do what a Roomba does. Lol.

  7. Nice to see your post pop up, Greg. My husband and I have decided that aliens will 1) be highly evolved and peaceful, or 2) annihilate us all from space, or see us as a source of food. 🙂
    I like your aliens better. 🙂

    1. If they really do see us as a source of food, I am going to set up a big neon sign reading, EATS-> and point it toward the Twin Cities. That ought to hold them off for a while. 🙂

  8. I drove past a windmill farm in Indiana a couple of years ago…I never realized my life was in danger!

    As a side note, I don’t trust that the extraterrestrials will bring peace to our warring world…that task is for the Robot Overlords.

  9. As always, your wife is right.
    And in this case, you are correct also.
    I like fence sitting.

  10. He’s BACK! It’s been too long. And this is brilliant: “She is all too willing to crush the miraculous with the mundane and that worries me because I prefer a world where wonders thrive. Not just because such a place is more vibrant and interesting – but because the mundane scares the crap out of me.”

    I think we would be supremely arrogant to think we are the only thing out there… (and that would be mundane!)

  11. Welcome back, Greg. (I know I know, you haven’t been anywhere. ) Terrific story. We are glad our windmills stay inland. Your wife is right. They are challenging neighbors.

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