Garden & Sky

Archive for the tag “constellations”

The Power of Transitions

I don’t consider myself a “morning person.” The transition from sleeping to wakefulness has always been wrenchingly difficult. But, most days, I drag myself from bed before dawn anyway because the quiet restorative power of the Earth’s early morning transition is too precious to miss.

Coffee helps. Stumbling to the kitchen, being careful not to trip over Samson (who, like all cats, must lead the way, a bare half-step in front), I start the pot brewing. The grumbly sounds of the water on its journey through the mechanism are comforting–never fear…hot caffeine is on the way. While this is in process, I get fresh food and half-and-half for Samson; I’m sure the sounds of the dishes clinking and the refrigerator door opening are comforting to him, as well. Soon, the big blue mug is full of coffee and I can move to the sunroom to greet the morning.

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One of the best features of our house is this sunroom. Extending off the back of the house, it has windows on all three walls and essentially puts you out in the backyard without actually having to get dressed and venture out. And this early in the morning, in the still-dark time with the windows open, the line between in and out is hardly noticeable.

The dark morning is full of expectation and possibility. As I set my coffee mug in a safe spot and sit myself comfortable on the sunroom floor, I look south. Even through the windows, the bright stars of Orion and Canis Major are easily seen, marching onward ahead of the sun. In the sometimes uncertain darkness, these starry friends are a great comfort. The world is dark, quiet, and sparkling.

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The birds know the morning is coming even before a soft glow in the east signals its arrival to me. Off in the distance, a soft, tentative chittering begins. Soon, others more confidently join in. A slight whiff of a breeze rustles through the leaves still clinging to the October branches. In the low brush, a small animal scurries by on a mission. The changeover from deep quiet to bustling activity is under way.

It’s tempting to resent the coming of day, the intrusion of light into the stillness of the predawn. After all, I’ve just gotten comfortable–here on the floor with coffee and cat–and part of me want this timeless darkness to go on and on. As the light increases in the backyard, details of the trees and gardens emerge. Colors and textures appear. Birds swoop by the windows, calling out to each other. Suddenly, the prospect of a new day seems not daunting, but energizing. Transitions are not always easy and not always comfortable. But as we move through them, we gain a kind of strength… a power. As I stand up, careful not to disturb Samson (he’s not quite so energized yet), I feel ready and able to face the day. One more cup of coffee, though… just to be sure.

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Signs of Spring

Although we’re very much in the grip of some seriously cold air at the moment, I know that spring is on the way. Each year I watch for the signs; each year nature does not disappoint.
Sign #1: Light
We live on a tilted planet. As the tilted earth makes its way around the sun, the amount of light we receive each day changes. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, like me, you’re getting more and more minutes of sunlight as the days go by. I notice this each morning as I sit with my cup of coffee, and a cat or two, and gaze out the sunroom windows. A month ago, I woke up to darkness. Now, at the same time, the warm colors of the rising sun are there to greet me.  A sure sign that spring is coming!

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Watching the sun rise… a little earlier each day!

Sign #2:  Song
Bird song, that is. If you watch–and listen to–birds, you know that they have a wide variety of songs and other vocalizations as they go about their daily bird tasks. As spring approaches, the music changes. Each year, at the end of January, my mom and I wait to hear the cardinal begin his spring singing. Loud and clear, he proclaims that the days are getting longer and it’s time to get busy establishing a territory and finding a mate. Other birds are doing the same… around here the chickadees and the titmice are especially noticeable.

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Looks like winter, but the birds know spring is near.

Sign #3: Stars
The nighttime sky has its own way of announcing the passing seasons. As we make our yearly trip around the Sun, we get to see different parts of the night sky. Certain constellations are prominent at certain times of the year. Orion, a popular favorite, makes his appearance during the winter months and is typically known as a winter constellation. As spring nears, though, he spends less and less time in the sky until he finally gives way to spring constellations. He’s such a fine constellation that it’s sad to see him go.

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Bright orange Betelgeuse, dazzling blue Rigel, softly glowing nebula…         what’s not to like about this guy?

Never fear, though… he’ll be back in the late fall! Nature does not disappoint.

“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

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