As much as I long for the city sometimes, country nights like tonight fill me with awe. Cold – frozen in fact – but so clear, all the stars visible. I spent an hour in the darkness sitting on the deck upstairs just staring into the sky, view obscured occasionally by my breath visibly floating through the air.

A few years ago, ML “gave” me an app for identifying constellations, so for basically the first time in all those years, I used it, halfheartedly. I am always a bit awestruck by the cosmos and my tiny place in this universe. Particularly when it’s so cold, I feel so small and insignificant. The awesome nature of being enveloped by this endless expanse of stars renders all of life’s trivialities insignificant as well; you know, when you’re trapped in your own head, listing off all the things you need to do, all the things you don’t want to deal with, think about, feel – it all retreats to some other place in the brain – a place far from immediate thought and anxiety.

A poem for post-star-gazing contemplation:

TactEdwin Arlington Robinson

Observant of the way she told
So much of what was true,
No vanity could long withhold
Regard that was her due:
She spared him the familiar guile,
So easily achieved,
That only made a man to smile
And left him undeceived.

Aware that all imagining
Of more than what she meant
Would urge an end of everything,
He stayed; and when he went,
They parted with a merry word
That was to him as light
As any that was ever heard
Upon a starry night.

She smiled a little, knowing well
That he would not remark
The ruins of a day that fell
Around her in the dark:
He saw no ruins anywhere,
Nor fancied there were scars
On anyone who lingered there,
Alone below the stars.

Perhaps I have been brainwashed by my descent into the nature-oriented New Agey books I just completed (hallelujah), which seemed to emphasize the importance of a relationship with nature and the universe as key to our ability to mature as adults. Maybe there’s something to it. But I know I’ve always felt this way when walking or sitting in the dark on clear, cold, starry nights. Infinitesimal but brimming with excitement, wonder and hope.

Photo (c) 2014 Tom Hall.

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