Monday, November 20, 2006

Starstruck

I took a walk around our neighborhood tonight, alone except for my iPod shuffle and the tunes that were supposed to motivate me to walk faster. We are experiencing odd fall weather here, very hot during the day and cool at night. I wanted to get out in that cool air and breathe some of it. There is something so very refreshing about night air to me.

As I walked down our street, I noticed the constellation of Orion off in the southwest. He was standing sideways, and his belt, the main thing I always notice about Orion, made a vertical line in the sky.

We don't get to see many stars here in this part of Southern California. The land is so populated and sprawled out that the millions of lights and the light pollution they produce blot out many stars except for the major constellations and a few planets. You can go up into the mountains and get a better view, or out in the desert, but on a daily basis here in the city, the stars are quite hidden and the sky mostly black but for a few sparkling beacons.

I remember being out in the vast Arizona desert at night about eight years or so ago. Hubba-hubba and I were on our way to visit my aunt in Scottsdale, and for some reason, we decided to pull over into a rest stop. We were literally in the middle of the desert, no civilization for many miles and the only lights to be seen were in the rest stop. The darkness was nearly complete except for the pools of light spilling directly below the few lampposts that dotted the nearby landscape.

I got out of the car to stretch my legs, and looked up into the sky. I was breathless with the beauty above. This city gal had never in her recent memory seen the tapestry of stars that I viewed that night. I knew how Carl Sagan must have felt those many years ago, for the sky was alive and alight in a way I shall never forget. I saw shooting stars and I literally could not believe my eyes at the way I could see for the first time with my own eyes the way the atmosphere curves. I had hints of it in the past, but there was no mistaking it now.

So tonight, when I saw Orion's belt, and perhaps the Pleiades, I thought back to that night and how I know that the stars are there, I just can't see them. I live in LaLa Land, where celebrities, "stars," abound. But I would trade them any day for the ability to see the real thing.

I'm sure I can buy myself some land in the desert, cheap.

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