All through the dusty, deckle-cut pages of time, the stars have fascinated those who wander over the earth. Man stares at them in wonderment, pondering his own insignificance. Stars light the great stag’s pathway, are reflected in the eyes of the snowy owl - they kindly acknowledge the wishes of children. Whether shooting or falling or hanging suspended up far, far above us in a sky of dark velvet, they are effortless and unknowable, belonging to the beautiful realm of grand mystery. But theirs is a circumspect beauty; they do not impose themselves where man has declared them irrelevant, rarely competing with the false glow of his cities. I found this out for myself one cold, still night on a hillside in England.
Having flown all the long night before, locked inside the musty air of a plane, we were bone tired, with muddled brains and eyes that were stinging from the lack of sleep. The bed we were snuggled inside ranked at the tiptop on our list of pure comfort - a fat, old four-poster, draped to perfection, it was a sublime confection of linen, feathers and down and we were sleeping the deep sleep of the grateful.
But, the moon woke me up.
Draping his light across my face like a grin, he obviously had a sight his wished to share, so insistent was he that I rise to greet him. How could I possibly refuse? Sliding out from my cocoon, padding across the patterned floor, I climbed up in the old window seat, wrenched open the casement window, and popped my sleepy head out into the chilly night air. In doing so, I entered a fairy-land I had supposed existed only within books.
Stars. Upon stars. Upon stars.
The midnight blue sky was totally covered in stars, as if the snowflakes had decided to defy the age old commandments of gravity itself and had defiantly blanketed the firmament. I held my breath, wondering if this indeed was but a dream. My soul, I could see the Milky Way! Crawling back inside momentarily, I whispered to The Songwriter to join me at the window, but he understandably muttered something about being more comfortable than he had ever been in his entire life and slipped back inside the soft arms of sleep. But, I remained at the window for ages and my imagination continues to happily feast upon that magical image, drawing the most delicious nourishment from the sight. I suppose it will do so forever.
It is a thing that my friends in the country know well, but I realized that night just but a taste of what man has obscured with his cities. As I sit in my garden and gaze up at the dark autumn sky, I now know what remains hidden, what wonder lies out there just beyond the artificial light of man.
It makes me smile.