Many of my online acquaintances know that I live in Chicago, but I suspect they might not know that I’m from a small university town in Mississippi called Starkville.

Starkville is home to Mississippi State University, where I attended college and studied Computer Science. In 2017 I graduated and moved to Chicago to start my career.

At the time I was excited to escape the place where I spent so many of my formative years, a place which was the symbol of mundanity for me and my youthful ambitions.

Seven years later and I’m having coffee and catching up on my inbox when I happened to find the latest issue of Claire Evans’ newsletter: a delightful story about moon trees—that is, trees grown from seeds that traveled to space and around the moon 34 times during the Apollo 14 mission.

Claire traces the history of the seeds, which were germinated into seedlings and given out to foresters across the country before being largely forgotten about and then eventually rediscovered and catalogued by NASA.

(By the way, don’t miss out on the wonderful website created to track the trees by a NASA archivist.)

Today less than 100 moon trees remain, but as Claire goes on to describe, there is a second generation of moon trees (so called “half-moons”) grown from the seeds of original trees that remain today.

The location of one of these mother-trees, though, is what caught my attention: it’s on the campus of Mississippi State University, my campus. All the times I walked past this humble tree I had no idea it had been to space.

It’s such a pleasant surprise to have this story appear in my inbox and show me something new about a place where I spent so much time.

While I lived there, I often felt suffocated by the mundanity of my home town. This has reminded me that there are things to appreciate and interesting stories (of perhaps cosmic proportion!) to discover in even the most mundane of places. We just have to keep our eyes open and remember not to take anything for granted.

If you’d like, you can buy a seedling Sycamore moon tree online descended from the one on the MSU campus.