Reaching for the stars

As the not-quite-perfect 2021 drew to a close, there was a feeling of relief and letting go. We let go of the worries triggered by the last blackcurrant and grape harvest – both pretty dire. It was decided that the next year would be better, healthier, sunnier, more balanced, all those hopeful wishes and prayers.

In the meantime I was learning about herbs and how to use them to settle into the darkness of winter. How to insulate myself against the greyness and dampness of English December. How to see the little flame that keeps me alive and how to feed it.

And then Scott arrived! A guest at our Tiny House, who chose the wettest December week to take some photos of night skies. And with two miniscule time windows in the eternal rain he lit up our winter.

The Andromeda Galaxy taken from our blackcurrant field by our guest in December 2021.

Suddenly the sky wasn’t just dark with a few pinpricks of stars. Suddenly there was so much to see and so much to wonder about. With two simple photographs (that took hours to take and hours to process, I am sure) we were reminded that there are things that make people’s hearts sing even in the darkest of drizzly night.

Needless to say that my Christmas present was a telescope. I am sure that you have done the maths (from Scott’s photos to Santa) and realised that M must have been hugely grateful for this inspiration in the dreaded ‘gifts for her’ area.

It has rained almost every night since then. We have briefly used our new star reaching toy but so far we are just finding our way around alignment, lenses and the app. Every now and then my phone navigates me to the southern hemisphere (through our patio and the Earth’s core), which is amusing. But once or twice I got closer to the Pleiades, which with the naked eye looks like a tiny cloud. A gaze through the magic of the telescope reveals a cluster of sparkly, silver stars.

I am no expert on stars and planets and my guess is that I will never be. But the enjoyment of seeing something new is perhaps another way to feed the flame that shines through darkness.

Tiny House with the Milky Way on the right and Jupiter on the left, taken by our guest in December 2021.

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