'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Sunday, 6 January 2008

Simply wonderful


My earliest memory is of one 5th of November, when I was about 3.  We were going to the village green to see the fireworks, and when I asked 'what are fireworks?'  My father told me they were pretty lights of fire in the sky. 
As dusk fell we arrived at the green. I was very excited as there were lots of people and I'd never been out after dark before.  My father hoisted me up onto his shoulders and I clutched him around the top of his head, feeling very high and important.  As my eyes became used to the dark I looked upwards, and what I saw made me gasp in delighted wonder.  The blackness was completely full from horizon to horizon with the most glorious, random sprinkling of tiny lights!  I remember saying "Daddy! Look!  The fireworks have already started!"  The fact that he responded gently with "No love, those are the stars.  They are always there" did nothing to diminish my heart-bounding sense of intense wonder.  I don't remember being very impressed with the fireworks later when they did begin, it was more than enough to watch the static display of stars above my head.  
Since then, the stars have always drawn me.  Like many, I find the sight of the clean bright points of light in the sky to have a great fascination, even though now I know what they are, and view them most often as objects of scientific, rather than aesthetic interest.  I have a couple of friends who have telescopes, and I've seen the craters on the moon, and the moons of Saturn.  
But I still sometimes wander outside at night and just lie on the lawn looking up.  I live in town now, and the street lights' competition reduces the number so I only see a fraction of what is out there.   But when I go camping, or stop on a country road and turn the headlights off, the stars can still take my breath away. 

3 comments:

  1. The multitude of heaven's stars humbles us and makes us feel that, no matter how small we might be in the universe, we are a part of it all, and therefore relevant and alive. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it.

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  2. Thank you. Praise indeed, for I find great inspiration and confirmation from your own posts. Thanks for calling in.

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  3. I, too, love the night sky. Lovely photo of the Southern Cross, something I'd like to see in person someday.

    Like montauk, I enjoyed reading your remembrance of childhood wonder.

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