Strolling Between Planets

The stretch of bike path Trav and I walk every day changes with the season, the weather, and the time of day, but the other day we encountered something new behind the Nat’s Farm subdivision.

uranus 1 trav

A big, blue, very round disk with diameter the width of the bike path. It was marked off with orange cones and the yellow “do not cross” tape you see at crime scenes and construction sites.


Further up the bike path, not far from the big field at Misty Meadows, “NEP” was painted on the asphalt in big white block letters.


On our next morning’s walk, Trav’s and my route took us through the state forest parking area across from the West Tisbury School.



earth solo

mars wordless

Finally I got it: planets!

That mysterious “NEP” at the other end had to stand for Neptune. And sure enough, the very next morning, several kids and their teacher were at work painting another big blue disk. I admired their work. They admired Travvy. I kept Trav from making pawprints on the still-wet paint.

A couple of days later the teacher (well, the supervising adult — I don’t know for sure that she’s a teacher) was out there alone with white paint and big handmade stencils. The plan was clear and becoming clearer. I admired the stencils and added that I’d stencilled a few sidewalks in my day but never anything this big. Doing it all by hand was harder than doing it digitally, we agreed. (In retrospect I’m thinking: Doing it by hand involves using one’s fingers, so isn’t that “doing it digitally” too?) It was a nice day to be outside, she said.

The stencilling isn’t quite done, but from Mars through Neptune each planet’s distance from the sun is in place.




uranus 2 miles

Trav checks out Neptune.

Trav checks out Neptune.

“You know, it’s more than a billion miles from Uranus to Neptune?” I tell Trav as we walk the distance in a minute or so.

Here’s the sun from which all those planets are distant:


And here’s my walking buddy sitting on top of the world.

earth trav

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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9 Responses to Strolling Between Planets

  1. meg says:

    it’s 2020. i wish they had been able to keep the planets restored as in the original’s a great idea!


    • I hope they’re going to finish it! They got this far at the very end of the 2018–19 school year, and I thought they’d finish it in the fall, but no: the only planet that has a name is Neptune. The teacher who led the project has retired, but I’m still hoping . . .


  2. To boldly go where no dog has gone before….


  3. alex palmer says:

    Really cool, hope they’re still there in a couple of weeks, great bike trip with the grandsons.


  4. jlfatgcs says:

    This is wonderful! I’m guessing it was a teacher. What a brilliant way to crystallize learning. Love this!! -Jennie-


    • I think so too! Mercury, Venus, and Earth don’t have their distances stencilled yet, so I might run into her again, or find her some other way. (Around here this is not hard. 😉 ) I’m guessing the kids were third- or fourth-graders. The planets are part of my personal landscape now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jlfatgcs says:

        I bet the children would love to tell you all about the planets, another way to expand their learning. The whole thing is very cool. Also, I bet they would love to meet your dog. Our library in Groton has a dog come in for children to read to. Great for beginning readers. Very popular! -Jennie-


      • This is a great idea. School gets out for the summer in the next day or so, but maybe I can at least let the teacher know about the blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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