Nostalgic Longings and an Abundance of Life

By Bob Grindle

It seems a thousand things that we know we should be doing sprout quickly in the composted remains of the time we all promise ourselves we’ll use wisely…and then life beckons. A star twinkles into view as dusky evening drifts in from the east and we pause to dream a wish; the smell of freshly cut grass invites a deep inhale of that nostalgic and luscious scent and we sit down for a moment’s distraction as we enjoy the tidy look of our handiwork; or perhaps the noise of human activity suddenly gives way to the sensory art and music of the world around us—birds’ singing, flowers and shrubs blooming, perhaps the sound of water rushing or cascading over rocks, aromas drifting, then mixing with the breezes whispering through trees and an absolute symphony of insect buzzing and clicking and chirping and humming create an architecture of sound and beauty that speaks to the common soul in us all, and we lose a moment to the pleasure of a relaxing reverie. As I sit down surrounded by the almost indescribably lush, soft, multi-shaded green grass that is the lawn on the sunny south side of our barn here on a south-facing hillside in Hampton, Connecticut, I look up into the quickly darkening sky. The first bright stars are twinkling into view, and I smile to imagine our address in the universe: Earth, Solar System, Milky Way…first the dog stars, Sirius (canis major) and Procyon (canis minor,) then Vega and the red stars, Betelgeuse, Arcturus and Aldebaran, as the night sky comes gradually, relentlessly to life.  It is at moments like this, sitting alone, if only for an instant, a solitary traveler on a planet positively bursting at the seams with life, that I feel most satisfyingly alive: not insignificantly small; not smugly superior; just delighted to be part of the crew on this singular journey.  

Certainly, there are broken tools to repair (always will be,) community commitments to keep, household projects to complete, animals to care for, weather to deal with, endless family matters to wrangle and daily chores that compete with the time it takes to restore one’s connection with the world around us, but I often think of these short interludes of reflection as a sort of refueling stop. A way to reignite the imagination and get on with the excitement of living. 

May will be a month not only to fulfill April’s promise of flowers, freshly restarted gardens,  greening landscapes and parades, but also of a parade of planets across the early morning skies. Beginning May 3rd as the waning crescent Moon fades into the sunrise, on each of four subsequent mornings the Moon will pair with different planets. Looking above the East-Southeast just-before-sunrise horizon on the 3rd, you’ll see Saturn to the left of the Moon, then on the 4th you’ll see the Moon between Saturn and Mars (Mars is the red planet to the left of the Moon,) on the 5th the Moon is between Mars, on the right, and Mercury. Finally, on the 6th, a whisper thin crescent Moon sits above and to the left of Mercury. 

With just a little bit of luck in the wee early hours before morning on Sunday and Monday May 5th and 6th you may be able to catch a meteor shower as our planet passes through the left-over debris from Halley’s comet back in 1986. The Aquariid Meteor Shower is not known to be a very productive source of shooting stars, but this year there will be little to no moonlight to hide the show and we might just get lucky. The meteors will appear to radiate from the Aquarius constellation high in the eastern sky and should not be too obstructed by treetops. 

Sitting here beneath the sky and on top of the Earth, it is hard to fully appreciate the full scale of our existence. In the Milky Way Galaxy alone more than 400 billion stars spread across more than 600,000 trillion miles are busy converting matter into starlight, and there are nearly 2 trillion more galaxies spread across the Cosmos. Here on Earth where matter evolved into a mind numbing galaxy of life forms and ultimately grew into consciousness, it is worth noting that along the way far more species have gone extinct than exist today…and as the sky grows more abundant with stars and a chill descends to remind me that April in Connecticut can get cold quickly, I head back into the house where warmth and light await. 

Leave a Reply