My dad used to take me stargazing. He had big paper atlases of the night sky, and I’m pretty sure they went all the way up through the 1970s. He would point out the various constellations and stars, giving them names, some of which I would remember.
What captured my attention more than the stars were the four large moons of Jupiter. I would get up very early on winter mornings, go out to the font yard and aim a telescope, or more often a pair of binoculars at the bright, yellow light and see the small dots twinkling impossibly close to it.
I wouldn’t have made a very good astronomer. I’m not terribly patient and I don’t like to sit still. And I was always more interested in beauty than math. During my summers in northern Ontario, I would take a canoe out to the middle of the lake and lay on the bottom, watching the Big Dipper, the Corona Borealis, and the frequent meteors and satellites. If I stayed out long enough, I might catch the rising of Taurus, or if was late enough in the summer, Orion.
I recently moved. New neighborhood, new route to work, boxes upon boxes. Every night I try to remember to drive home to the right house. The new place is on the top of a small hill, the driveway about a 45% grade, which should make for an interesting winter. My daughter is getting to know the new neighbors, turning on her usual charm. Since my wife pretty much knows everyone in town, I’m sure we’ll be settled in soon.
But it’s always a bit unsettling, moving. Not that I haven’t done it many times, but this is the first one in a while, and old habits become old friends. When I used to take canoe trips in Canada, I would look up at the moon and imagine that my girlfriend or parents or sisters were looking up at the same moon, that the world wasn’t so big.
The other morning I stepped out the front door (after mistakenly trying the side door) and Orion was standing straight up in front of me, a familiar friend since childhood. My wife and child were still asleep upstairs, and if I stayed out of the ditch at the bottom of the hill, all would be right with the world, and the stuff beyond.