Friday, 25 August 2017

Even Better Than An Eclipse Of The Sun


Come walk with me, won't you? At this time of year, it's too hot to walk during the day, so I walk at twilight. That means it's too dark to take pictures on my point-and-shoot camera, so you'll need to use your imagination a bit.

The asphalt on our street is still radiating warmth. But the air is cooling, and there's a little breeze that makes walking pleasant. I have about twenty minutes of twilight to wander and wonder.

Early into my walk, I pass a yard that is neatly mowed except for a patch of tall grass near the front step of the house. From this oasis comes the startlingly loud chirp of a cricket. It lives there, I think, because I hear it every evening on my way by. Does the cricket live there because its patch of grass is safe, or do the homeowners leave that grass unmowed because the cricket lives there? I don't think I'll ask, because I don't want to spoil the magic.

A little further along, I pass three elderly pine trees. They are half brown this year, and I suspect they are dying. But from their upper branches comes the breathless murmuring and whistling of a half a dozen mourning doves jostling for sleeping positions. (For an amazing close up video of a mourning dove cooing, go HERE. As it explains, they take in a big gulp of air, and expel it through their nasal cavities to make that trademark cooing noise.)

If I turn left now, I'm headed for the river. This time of night, there is often a train passing through town in the distance, and the screeching and clacking of metal wheels turning on metal tracks carries clearly to my ears. The streetlights and the walking trail lights are all on by now, and they glow softly in the darkening air.

If I had turned right, instead, I'd reach a busier street, but even it is pleasant at this time of night; there are few cars passing and even fewer other evening walkers. Light spills from windows, and dogs who have already had their after-supper walk give a woof (if large) or (if small) yap furiously at me from behind screen doors.

If I'm lucky, I see the new neighbourhood twin fawns and their mama out and about. These aren't the twins of last year, because these ones still have their spots. My husband found them bedded down in our back yard in broad daylight a few weeks ago. Mama was nowhere to be seen. I'm glad she felt our yard was a safe place to leave them while she did errands ... or whatever mama deer do when they go off by themselves. But at the edge of darkness, they are on the move, eating and likely heading for the river to get a drink.

I'm hoofing it pretty steadily because I am not wearing reflective clothing, and I know how hard it is to see a walker at twilight, and I want to get home before it gets completely dark and my husband sends out the search and rescue folks.

But somewhere near the end of my walk, I take a moment to stop, and lift my eyes to the sky, and look at the dark velvet heavens lit by tiny twinkling stars, and marvel - as always - that I am gazing into a space so vast and unknown that I don't know if humanity will ever learn all its secrets. Astronomy has made many discoveries, and we certainly know more than we used to ... but will we ever know it all?

The sky, by night or day, and the endless distance beyond it, is what awes me, and fills my heart, and lifts me up. And it's right over our heads all the time ...

... unlike some celestial events, which shall be unnamed except in the post title but which I disregarded last week like a grumpy old woman, which perhaps I am :)


Not my photo, but it looks just like "my" sky. (Pixabay photo)



I hope you have a weekend with some awe in it. And if all else fails ....... go outside, and look up.

(Granted, some days there's going to be a big ol' mess of clouds in the way, but it's the principle of the thing, isn't it? And you've got a good imagination, don't you? Well, then!)






27 comments:

  1. Indeed, astronomy engenders new discoveries, new understanding all the time, but your reflections on a twilight walk invite the heart as well as the mind. I am so appreciative; you took me along with your account. I must go out now and look at the stars.

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    1. I hope they met your expectations, Geo.:)

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  2. The night sky with its trillions of stars awes the heck out of me too. The never-ending vastness is incomprehensible and so magnificent. I don't think we'll ever know all the secrets of the known universe, let alone the unknown parts.

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  3. You might not have been able to take photos but you certainly described things so that we didn't need photos. Train wheels? I liked that one.

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    1. Thanks, Red. I really like the sound of a train in the distance.

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  4. Even those clouds can inspire awe. I was with you all the way on your walk. That's a nice piece of writing.

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    1. Thanks, Delores, and you are so right about the clouds, too.

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  5. Laura caught a glimpse of the crescent moon yesterday and said "Look, Gramma, it the eclipse moon."

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  6. Thanks for the walk, jenny_o. I enjoyed it. And you are right about looking up instead of looking down at our phones. Lots of cool stuff up there. Take care and have a great weekend, too.

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  7. Beautiful description of your walk. Here's Neil DeGrasse Tyson talking about feeling connected to the stars when he looks up at the sky:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU

    There have been a pair of little orange "skipper" butterflies flying together all over the back yard and the neighbor's yard for the past few days, and yesterday I saw a greenish caterpillar from those fluttery, white butterflies crawling across the concrete where Zsuzs's plants now live. All of the peaches are gone off of the tree, and one lone pear remains in the upper branches, too high for Briana to get to with her step ladder.
    Autumn, or the mild approximation of it we get out here, is on its way.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. You are so right ... there are wonderful things under our noses as well as above our heads :) Great observations.

      Which leads me to ask in a whiny tone yet again: when are you going to start blogging??

      :)

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  8. This post was amazing. Like reading a beautiful poem. I love your walk. It's something I would enjoy/do enjoy. Speaking of grumpy, I guess I'm a member of that club because I kind of shrugged off the eclipse. My husband wasn't even aware of it; he found out after it happened :)

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    1. Thanks, Martha ... I always wanted to have a club, and now we do :)

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  9. Lovely...Did you know, there is a quote which wonders when we have the night's stars why we all sit inside to the light of the television or the computer...so does this post. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  10. Great minds think alike! I did exactly that last night - got out the folding lounge chair and reclined on our deck gazing up at the stars. Amazing! I sat out there for nearly an hour, counting meteors and satellites when I wasn't just staring in awe. Then Hubby came out with the binoculars, which revealed that even the darkest parts of the sky were brilliant with stars. It's a wonderful feeling to be tucked under that glittering blanket!

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    1. Those of us with clear skies are lucky to be able to take it in, aren't we?!

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  11. the sky over one's head cures a multitude of emotional ailments. for me, anyway. beautiful twilight.

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  12. I don't know what to say Jenny other than it was an interesting read.

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    1. Thanks, Terry - no need to say anything but that is nice to hear :)

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  13. Wow !!!
    thank you for taking me along .
    it was beautiful walk .
    but i don't like the train to pierce the cover of silence of stary calm night

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    1. I'm lucky not to mind it, but I know some do!

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