December 14, 2012

Dancing Beneath The Stars

I stood on top of the hill, waiting for Encore to work his way through his supper.  My head was craned back, 30 degrees feeling like 20 once I stopped moving and the cold air seeped in through my edges.  I racked my mind, trying to remember where Gemini was, my astronomy class and fascinated study of the night sky almost two decades in my past.  I finally concluded that if everyone could see tonight's meteor shower, it must be in the southern sky.

So I waited.

A satellite buzzed overhead, its steady glow seeming to traverse the galaxy like a pelican cruises the tips of the waves, effortless in medium in which we are helpless.

I have loved the stars as long as I can remember; my childhood evenings were filled with my mother pointing out the royal arrangement of Cassopeia and the warrior Orion, with his faithful dog at his feet and a brute of a bull on his shoulder.  I came to love them even more over time, because they were the one thing we couldn't reach, the one thing that was truly perfect because humanity couldn't touch it and therefore couldn't mess it up.

As I watched this night, I was struck again by their impossible magic, even though I know the science -- giant balls of fire and gas; the meteors themselves, tremondous rocks hurtling through space and burning trails of flame and debris through our atmosphere.  Yet to us, each star is but a tiny point of light, watching us, and those roaring meteors merely white streaks of an instant, like a single note struck on a piano key in the near-infinite chord of a universal melody.

I also wondered, how long has it been since someone first looked at the incomprehensible brilliance at play above with a horse at their side.  The horses even have their own constellation!  How many people over centuries have watched a tail of ivory trace an arc against blackness while an equine partner chewed into the silence nearby?  How long have horses and humans danced together on the stage watched over by Antares and Vega and Sirius?

I suppose I know the answer already, but it still opens a door in my mind whose hinges had become rusty with disuse.  It brought into question time and perspective and the quiet truth that it is really we, our species, who are a brief single note echoing into the span of geological epochs.  We are the miniscule flashes of an instant, but oh how much sweeter the note is when it is accompanied by hoofbeats and the swish of a tail, by the soft sighs of contentment into a pile of hay, all while massive gravitational forces play on scales our minds cannot even comprehend and entire solar systems are born and die before their light even reaches us.

Yet all we see are those brief trails, a reminder that the warm, powerful neck beneath our hand, the strong quiet heartbeat that drives the horses who teach us about love and patience and strength and exhilaration, all of these are but brief opportunities and we must, we MUST grasp them before their light burns out, the purity of the moment lost and overwhelmed by the blinding arrival of dawn and noise and traffic and rules.


  1. Our weather has been so foul of late that I almost forgot about the Geminid shower.

    Last night fell, crystal clear, and as I ventured out for evening barn check in the pitch black, I suddenly remembered when three shooting stars streaked past... divine! :D

  2. So cool, aren't they?? Glad you got to see them. I think the shower goes until like the 16th? because it is two meteor fields. The new one has yet to be named, but appears to be centered around Pieces, which I don't stay up late enough to see, LOL.

  3. I love astronomy, and astrology. The sky is completely mezmerizing. I saw a shooting star, I wasn't aware there was a meteor shower until today. Such a sight.

  4. Isn't it funny how we can just stare up at these little lightbulbs for hours. But they never fail to arouse the sense of wonder and curiosity.

  5. For some reason, I am always seeing shooting starts down here, even when there isn't a meteor shower. I never really saw them when I lived up north, but maybe I just spend more time star-gazing now. :-D

    I am about to how my neediness here, but I love the part in Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy that says something like: Space is big--*really* big. I mean, you think it's a long way down the street to the chemist's, but that's nothing compared to space.

    EachI of us really is a minuscule dot on an almost imperceptible dot that's gone in the blink of an eye. But horses make the time that we do have so much richer.

  6. This is such a lovely post. Sharing the stars with ponies sounds like a wonderful night.

  7. Thank you, Super Ponies. It was -- although I bet it would have been even better if it was 70 instead of 30! Perhaps in August I'll remember the Perseids this year and be warmer!