Looking Up


Looking Upweb

You do NOT have to wear a hat and gloves in order to look up at the sky. Feel free to wax theatrical, however.

A few weeks ago my friend Cheryl told me that most people forget to look up and view the sky on a regular basis.

I find this hard to believe. I spend a lot of time looking up—not just because I’m short but because I was educated to do so.

One of the joys of my liberal-arts degree from Mount Holyoke was and remains my minor in astronomy. I never wanted to be an astronomer. I loved studying astronomy, however. It grounded me in our world and our universe. It still does.

On clear nights (and we’re having a lot of those lately!) I keep track of the movement of the seasons by charting the progress of the constellations through the sky. The moon’s phases remind me that the month is flying by.

As for the sun … well, the sun’s migration along the horizon is particularly striking here in western Massachusetts.

At the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its southernmost point, the morning light appears outside my bedroom window over a high mountain. That mountain makes the winter sunrise even later than it would ordinarily be at this latitude, around 9:30 in the morning. I have often told our minister that if the church would celebrate a sunrise service at Christmas instead of Easter I might actually manage to get out of bed in time to attend.

Today is the summer solstice—and the sun has moved dramatically to the north. (Yes, I know that technically the earth has moved, not the sun, but life is all about perception.) From my point of view the sun now rises above the barn across the street at Red Top, the home of my neighbors the Gillans. I don’t actually see the sunrise from my window unless I get up to take my dog out around 5:30 and peer northward.

I’m not generally a sunrise kind of girl because I’m not a morning kind of girl. At this time of year, however, I enjoy contemplating the sun as it appears over that barn. (I can, and do, always go back to sleep!)

The sun will start moving to the south again tomorrow. But today it briefly seems to stand still.

Its bright northern light represents all the ripeness that summer offers—daylilies and corn and tomatoes; hours spent chatting with neighbors on the shore or gliding through the clear, cool water; shared stories and songs and sandwiches on the porch.

To top off the thrill of today, tonight we’ll be treated to the Strawberry Moon. That full moon of June celebrates the flavor and significance of my favorite berry. I plan to observe the occasion by consuming at least a pint of strawberries.

I hope you eat them too—and above all I hope you look up! I find that when I’m looking up the world is, too.

Happy Solstice.

strawberriesweb

To read more about my astronomy minor, click here.

To read more about the Strawberry Moon, click here.

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6 comments on “Looking Up

  1. Anna Kleinschmit-Kubasek says:

    Tinky I love this post from you and am so grateful to have had the time to read it this morning and forward to my girlfriends and family. I owe you a reply and will come see you soon I promise. Love Anna and sweet dreams on this glorious morning 🙂 xxo

    >

  2. Deb says:

    Tinky, you always seem to put it best.

  3. Mary says:

    Hi Tinky. This is lovely. I grew up in a small town where we had almost no light pollution, and so now when I live in yet another small town, right on the shores of Lake Ontario, it is one of the joys of my life to look up at night, and all around during the day. I was taught by a Mohawk elder to greet the sun every day: when I see the sunrise, no matter how I feel, saying, “Thank you, Creator, for this beautiful day” elevates my spirit every time.

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