Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shit, Stars!

Have I told you that I love the stars? Considered going into astronomy, wanted to be an astronaut? When I was 12, checked to see how old I'd be when Haley's Comet returned? Really, really, really love the stars. And that I seldom get to see them, here in Juneau. First, from late spring through summer to early fall, the sun doesn't set far enough to get dark, so no stars for over half the year. The rest of the year, we have clouds that keep the stars hidden more than we have clear skies. And enough moisture in the air to make our starry nights less than the wonder that they are in the high desert. None-the-less, just about a block uphill from my place, the road curves and you are suddenly out of civilization. No more houses. No more light pollution. You are in a canyon, so you don't have much horizon. Actually, you have a small slit of sky. But, on clear winter nights the stars crowd into that small slit and are just breath taking.

I've mentioned that we've had a lot of snow. The newspaper tells me, 44.1 inches in recent storms. So, what I've mainly seen when I was outside or looked outside was white stuff -- falling from the sky, laying on the ground, clogging the roads, coating the trees. Pretty as a picture, but causing lots of problems. And, to go with it, cloudy skies -- when we could see them at all.

And then, the clouds cleared. Bright blue sky. Cheerful feeling to the air. Spring in the step, even the step of folks like me who walk with sticks. Ah, the world goes on, hope springs and all of that good stuff. So nice to see a sky that isn't gray. Of course, since we have all become accustomed to living in the semi-gloom, we squint our eyes and tilt our heads, not quite sure what that swatch of color overhead is about. Small children cry because the familiar sky seems to have broken. The rest of us, not unlike vampires, skuttle between buildings, hoping to escape this strange condition unscathed.

It is not an unmixed blessing -- we all know that without the mediating effect of the clouds, the heat will dissipate and the world will be colder. And, sure enough it is -- it dropped from 34 degrees to 15. The worst is night, when all the heat from the day escapes out into the sky, leaving us without our safety blanket. So, is it any wonder that as I walk up the stairs to my bedroom, I look out the skylight and mutter, "Shit. Stars."

17 comments:

Gina said...

My dad is an amateur astronomer, he works up at Mt. Wilson. His practical nature dictated that he be in accounting, but now that he is nearing retirement, astronomy is totally his pet project.

joared said...

Sorry about the stars, but you can't have everything, you've got Alaska, don't you? ;-)

Uncivil said...

Wow Granny!!!
I was born at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage Alaska,about 2 years before Alaska became a State.

You sure make me want to visit.

Oh...almost forgot....I've been meaning to send you this tongue twister.Try to say it real fast.

I am not the pheasant plucker,
I'm the pheasant plucker's mate.
I am only plucking pheasants
'cause the pheasant plucker's late

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay warm.

Lorna said...

stars are the symbol for me of all that is miraculoous, mysterious and appealing. I have them all over my house, and when I turned 60, had them tattooed on my wrist. You'd be pretty blasphemous around me.

Ginnie said...

Just stopped by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I couldn't imagine all that snow and cold. I had it once but my bones won't take it now. I guess if you keep your head up with the stars and your feet on the ground you'll be ok. I'm grateful today that my grandaughter is doing the whole Thanksgiving thing...her idea and I can't wait to see how she does.

Anvilcloud said...

Not many here lately either: we've had more than our share of clouds, I tell you. We just had two days of sun though, and even though it is the misty today, it's very pretty.

Py Korry said...

The most amazing "star show" I ever saw was when I went camping in Utah. Also, when I went to Guyana, the stars were amazingly bright. :-)

J said...

I remember last year, we had a LOT of rain (I think we had more rainy days than Seattle for a few months there...) When the sun came out, it was disorienting and kind of confusing. What is that bright orb in the sky? It hurts my eyes!

Sorry it's cold there. Then again, by the time you read this, it will probably be cloudy again. :)

Ally Bean said...

And to think that I'm happy when I see stars. It's all a matter of perspective and weather, I guess.

Winston said...

Down here in Tennessee I have no basis for comparison or understanding. 44 inches of snow is more than we've had cumulatively for the last 10 years - honest...

I lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years and it is almost always cloudy. Then I moved to Iowa where there were clear bue skies by day and sparkling, starry skies at night. Around Nashville, we're somewhere between those extremes, but tend more to the clear skies with stars at night. But I've never had to say "Shit. Stars."

Ginger said...

I really enjoy reading your posts. My mother and I have only recently gotten into this blog thing. Could you explain to me how this meme thing works? Can you make up your own and tag someone or must wait to be tagged. My blog is at http://stuck-on-survive.blogspot.com/. Thanks

kenju said...

In an odd, but interesting bit of synchronicity, just as I clicked onto your blog, my grandson was setting up his telescope! He brought it with him because where he lives, there are so many trees he cannot see the stars.

Ms. Mamma said...

Oh Granny, I love the stars, too. And I know exactly how you feel about that clear crisp crackling cold. At least you weren't 'seeing stars' because of a slip and fall, that too would be 'shit, stars!' Hope you had a nice Holiday.

kenju said...

I KNOW I left a comment here last night - so what happened to it? Just as I clicked on your blog, my grandson was setting up his telescope to look at the sky.

Rhea said...

Interesting, how the stars can mean something entirely different for you. Life in Juneau, wow.

Mary Lou said...

Well We have had our share of cloudy weather too, snowing right now and the power is blinking. I LOVE the stars, especially when it is cold and clear. My favorite sight in the night sky is Orion.

Cuppa said...

Those clear stary nights can sure give you a cold nose and frosty toes, but the sight of the stars gives you such a warm heart.