Monday, December 24, 2007

A place of marvel

I generally wake at least once each night in the dark hours. Here in Exuma that means trundling to the fridge for a glass of cold water, then stepping onto the terrace to see what transpires in our dark sky. Back in Massachusetts, if I stepped out the back door I would be looking up into a milky orange glow.

Standing here in my skivvies, in the warm breeze, a full Moon is high in the sky. We are on the Tropic of Cancer, so at the winter solstice the full Moon tracks directly overhead. Last evening, the Moon rose just moments before Mars, and during the night the Moon slipped by the red planet, a sight of breathtaking delight. Parts of the Earth saw an occultation, with the Moon actually obscuring Mars.

I remembered something Loren Eiseley wrote about the insomniac: "That man must be disencumbered of reality. He must have no commitments to the dark, as do the murderer and thief. Only he must see, though what he sees may come from the night side of the planet that no man knows well. For even in the early dawn, while men lie unstirring in their sleep or stumble sleepy-eyed to work, some single episode may turn the whole world for a moment into the place of marvel that it is, but that we grow too day-worn to accept."