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Grouse Hollow Journal

Grouse Hollow Journal: Stargazing is a pleasure

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I slept well, but I was up and outside at 4:30 this morning. I pressed the OFF button on the yard light remote. I leaned against the porch corner until my eyes adjusted to near pitch black, wishing I had a cup of coffee. The temp was a dampish 66, but the sky was a nearly perfect indigo pallet that looked like little kids had been joyfully decorating the heavens with glitter without supervision.

The view was almost crystal clear despite the humidity and maybe western smoke. I thought I could maybe make out part of Orion over the silhouette of our hills, but I only for sure recognized Venus—I think. I didn’t look long. I wasn’t alone. I realized that I was being stalked. That’s not unusual though. OC (the Other Cat) daintily pussy-footed through wet grass to the patio and began flirting for breakfast, purring and rubbing my legs. This set off the pre-dog alarm dog alarm. Ambience interrupted. Oh well, I pushed the ON button on the yard light remote, and headed in to round up some chow for the cat and Bo, and make coffee.

I recently purchased a short remote control extension cord sold for controlling holiday lighting from inside. I assigned it another job, turning the yard light off and on. With the remote I can turn the light off with the push of a button and not be near the motion sensor lights on the garage, thus having a nearly perfect blackout to be able to better see the night and morning stars.

There is nothing quite like sitting or laying down out under a clear night sky with little ambient light from a city or house. The stars were the best part of camping on the sandbar when I was in high school. Well maybe not the best part. Though stargazing and counting shooting stars ranked up there with adult beverages, girls from Guttenburg or Cascade or Buena Vista, and telling stories and lies and making predictions around a blazing campfire. One prediction I remember well was on a late night when we were almost spent and starting to wax philosophical and someone, Mike Schier maybe, wondered what we’d all be doing at the end of the century. That got a hoot or two from the waning crowd. We mostly agreed that none of us thought we’d live to be in that “can’t trust anyone over 30” age group let alone until 2000. That then was like the stars, light years away. In hindsight, it is amazing how fast light years can vaporize.

Until next time, get out — there will be cooler days ahead. I have seen some sumac and ivy turning red. Hunting seasons are on the horizon. Apple season is here, too. The fall (and winter) are great times to do some remembering and dreaming while taking in a starry night sky. Enjoy.

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