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Archive for August, 2020

Ghosts

DSCN0645

 

I haven’t seen stars like this, in a night sky like this, in nearly 30 years.

Caught by necessity in cities with man-made light, man-made noise, man-made man demanding man-made things from this soft cocoon of stars and sky that is night, I can barely remember what it looks and feels like to see and feel such… space. Even when traveling back and forth across the globe, skimming at the top of the sky where the stars should be brighter if I could look and see, we passengers of this era are reminded to close our window-blinds so that fellow travelers may sleep as we fly into the evanescent line where day and night meet.

I wonder how many of these stars are now ghosts and their light just now being caught in my eye, as in this photo.

When I was a little girl camping with my father in a national park near us, there would be the familiar sweep of the Milky Way across the sky when we looked up. It was magic. We’d just stand there in the meadow and look up, silent together, looking at the sky with the cool air of 8000 feet nipping at my nose. Our family dog seemed to be frightened of the dark when my dad would put on a spooky voice and say: “The deer are watching us..,” for she’d wrap herself between his legs and I’d draw close to his big frame, smiling at his prank but happy for the feel of his arm around me anyway.

It was literally heaven, this sweep of starlight and the dark wrapping night and his navy blue jacketed arm around me.

And he being the one who taught me that this beautiful natural world is both sacred and we in its possession, rather than the other way around.

Is it still there, this sky, I wonder?

He is no longer.

He left for this starry place two years ago, eager to be out of his earth-binding body. The last time I saw him, he was conversing in a clear voice with an unseen presence about a dog he so loved; it was clearly life review but I was not privy to see the unseen presence with whom he conversed. When I touched him lightly to remind him I loved him, I received the famous paternal look I knew so well, that told me I was interrupting, as he turned back to the sky and his task of eternity at hand.

One day a long time ago, I and a photographer friend were covering the plowing under of the Northern Plains north of Roundup, Montana. One day it was native grasses as far as you could see. Literally the next morning, after the huge yellow D-9 scrapers turned over the soil—in order to plant crops that would not grow in that habitat but no matter as it was a ploy by corporations for Federal subsidies not an actual farmer doing the destroying—antelope, sage grouse and hares previously hidden in their brown, grassy habitat, wandered over the stark, dark soil. The animals seemed stunned, looking at the new landscape devoid of their home, their habitat, their food, their grasses.

Ghosts. The sky of stars, the presence of those we love and now miss. Wildlife wandering in search of a shred of grass left behind.

Even Nature itself feels a ghost of itself, tho I know this is not possible. Nature has her ways of shaking off and moving on, letting nothing impede her change and process.

Like the antelope—or my father leaving this earth—I feel a ghost to myself as I reach for something new in a life now changed. Habitat has changed and lights wipe out the midnight blue of sky and stars, and noise of the streets and highway overwhelm my senses.  I pace the night away in my little house, feeling like a ghost to the times that were lived here, a house brimming with memory and habitat full of nurturing, but is no more.

We are neither in possession of the stars in the sky nor the sacred that gives meaning to our time on earth.

We can only try to follow the light that reaches us now.

 

 

 

 

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