Every morning before I leave for work, I take the dogs out to take care of doggy related things. While they are busy with the dog stuff I have the opportunity to enjoy the morning stillness before the chaos of the day.
Since it is now still dark out, I tend to look up. Really, more people should do this. I spent some time in the U.S. Coast Guard and besides the obvious learning the navigational stars, I had years of opportunity to look up without the light pollution prevalent in the populated areas of the modern world. Few people have seen the sky as I have, and it truly is a shame. Staring into the bowl of stars, seeing cascades of “falling stars”, and the Milky Way shining brighter than most people will ever see. Gave me a sense of perspective – I’m a minuscule mote in the cosmos.
Despite the fact that I live in a populated area, this small town isn’t too bad for stargazing. I see familiar stars and constellations. Planets come and go, right now Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible to the naked eye. Sirius, the Dog Star follows Orion in his annual journey through the sky. Rising above the horizon in the morning in October, Sirius portends the arrival of fall, and the cold of winter to come. I always feel ambivalent about the arrival of cold weather – it’s a break from the swelter of SW Virginia summers, but increased energy consumption because we have to use lights, and I do turn the heat on because I’m not a fan of being uncomfortably cold.
The trees lose their leaves, the bees put up the last of their groceries for the winter, and the other bees try to steal the groceries. The walnut trees drop the nuts, squirrels stash them away for their winter. The circle of life in scale both grand and tiny.
It’s not cold enough yet to get all bundled up in winter coat, thus far a hoodie is enough to ward of the chill. I see the folks who grew up in this part of the country wrapped up in so many layers they can barely move, and it’s 50 degrees out. I just smile, and wonder how they would react to a nice crisp 50 below morning.
When I was a young’un I had a Ford Pinto. I had gone up to Saranac Lake to visit my little sister. As was my routine, before starting the Pinto, I checked the oil. It was down a quart so I grabbed one out of the back seat, shoved the metal spout in the can, and tipped it up to replenish the engine oil supply. The familiar glug glug glug didn’t happen. After a few minutes, I lifted the can and the oil was still in it. I pulled the spout out, brought the can inside and opened it with a can opener. Took a spoon and used the spoon to dig the oil out of the can and into the top end of the engine. The trusty Pinto did turn over tho slower than usual. The fuel air mixture fired and she started. I let her run a while to warm up before I left. Thing is, I was in my boots, jeans and a t-shirt while all this was going on. It felt crispy cold but there was no wind at all. Went inside, put on my jacket, grabbed my bag, said goodbye and left. On the way out of town, the radio said that Saranac Lake had just set a new record for low temperature, -52 Farenheight. Yes, 52 below. No wonder the oil didn’t flow. I was out in it in a t-shirt.
In 3 more months, Orion will be setting when the dogs and I go out to take care of the dog related things. I will look up and smile, knowing that soon it will be warm enough to check on the bees, and the winter coat will return to its hanger for the next 8 months or so. The power and gas bills will diminish, and the people will soon start complaining about how hot it is.