Alexander Averin

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Of suns and stars and things that go bang.

 Starry Night Vincent Van Gogh

Dear Diary,

One kind word can warm three winter months.

Japanese Proverb

Just lately the earth and the surrounding space has had us in its thrall.  Did anyone see the eclipse? I didn’t because our Sun was acting shy this morning, cloud-covered, her veil grey and dull, an altogether unattractive spectacle and a little higher up the valley the whole countryside was downright misty.

The messages coming out from the media were conflicting, look at the sun, don’t look at it - telling us not to miss the chance of a lifetime but also saying don’t look at it because the Sun could possibly blind you unless you wore special glasses. 

And did the Earth move for you?  There was another earthquake in the north of England yesterday.  We sometimes get little earthquakes here in Wales, I have experienced the crockery on my dresser shaking more than once.  We had a mysterious ‘explosion’ in these parts just before Christmas, all sort of stories are being bandied about as to what caused it.  Some say it was a sonic boom but I have heard those and this was nothing like a sonic boom.  I thought something had crashed into the library roof and the building shook.  My cottage also shook and that is six miles from the library.  The ‘blast’ was felt over a very wide area and seemed to originate from a mountain range used by the Army but they say they don’t know what it could have been.  It wasn't an earthquake, but what was it?  I doubt we will ever find out the truth.

I am lucky to live in an area unpolluted by artificial light and it is a great place for sky-watching.  I like to go out last thing at night with the dogs (unless it is very cold as it has been of late) and  look at the night sky. Last night was fairly warm. I have become that hardy in these last few weeks that freezing point or just slightly above is now considered warm!) so I went out looking for the promised meteor showers but there were none to be seen.  But I did see a truly  magnificent sky, completely clear and filled to bursting with stars and planets. I had never seen so many at one time. I always remember that stars twinkle and planets shine but I wish I knew all their names and more about their arrangement in our night sky. 

So much in life to learn, so little time.

I will leave you with a poem by the Cherokee poet Diane Clancy.

Solar Eclipse

Each morning
I wake invisible.

I make a needle
from a porcupine quill,
sew feet to legs,
lift spine onto my thighs.

I put on my rib and collarbone.

I pin an ear to my head,
hear the waxwing's yellow cry.
I open my mouth for purple berries,
stick on periwinkle eyes.

I almost know what it is to be seen.

My throat enlarges from anger.
I make a hand to hold my pain.

My heart a hole the size of the sun's eclipse.
I push through the dark circle's
tattered edge of light.

All day I struggle with one hair after another
until the moon moves from the face of the sun
and there is a strange light
as though from a kerosene lamp in a cabin.

I put on a dress,
a shawl over my shoulders.

My threads knotted and scissors gleaming.

Now I know I am seen.
I have a shadow.

I extend my arms,
dance and chant in the sun's new light.

I put a hat and coat on my shadow,
another larger dress.
I put on more shawls and blouses and underskirts
until even the shadow has substance.

Diane Glancy

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Toni aka irishlas said...

We did get to see the eclipse and it was absolutely magical. My husband took some great pics.

In all honesty, the stars stood out more than the eclipse itself to me. The night sky was clear and crisp which made for perfect viewing (even if we did have to set the alarm clock to get up to see it)

I never realised you experienced earthquakes in your region. Learned something new today!

Wishing you a Happy New Year

Frances said...

Cait, how I do envy you that view of the stars and planets. I've read this post of yours quickly, and cannot now comment fully.

Promise to be back soon. Happy New Year. xo

Fire Byrd said...

Didn't catch this eclipse, but remember the one a few years back that I did see.
We have a little light pollution and on summer nights if I get up about 2am I can lie on the back lawn and watch the shooting stars.
Lovely thoughtful poem.

The bike shed said...

Mid wales is one of the best places in Southern UK to see the stars; Pembrokeshire is not basd too. I took my telescope to Dolgoch Hostel once - fab.

On an entirely different note, I see that Waterstone's announced today that it will 'exiting' 60 stores across the UK this year. I hope the libraries can take advanatage.

Faith said...

Only saw the eclipse on tv. Love that japanese proverb, Cait.

And Happy New Year to you x

CAMILLA said...

Did not see that Eclipse Cait, but I watched the interesting programme on the stars and planet on TV yesterday evening - Stargazers. Think we can see the Eclipse around 7- 7.30am later this morning.