Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The stars!

What better way for the winter to announce it's arrival than with the bright starry nights we have been having here since the clocks went back last weekend.  I'm not really a fan of the clocks going back - sure, it's an opportunity to snuggle inside a little earlier and it brings with it the happy creep towards the festivities at the end of the year - but it also cuts the day off before I'm ready to come inside.  However, there has been a silver lining this year.  It's not that Oli has never been out in the dark before but it feels as though he is experiencing all the wonder and awe of a star-lit sky for the very first time.  Last night, as the dark crept up on us that whole hour earlier, I realised a bunch of toys were still outside at the end of the garden. We'd pulled a bag of bricks and cars out to a spot where the low slung sun had been able to reach us in the early afternoon.  Max led the intrepid party to retrieve them.
Let me backtrack a little...recently, Oli has been having some issues with a decorative owl perched on a neighbour's roof. He woke up terrified yesterday morning. 'It's out there' he said, wide eyed and pale at five thirty in the morning, 'Max saw it.' It was dark and it took me a while to work out what was out where. When I figured it out, I lifted the blind to see how menacing the owl actually appeared. I couldn't even see the ledge, let alone the bird and Max was fast asleep.  I was not going to argue with this new found anxiety at such an hour.  I persuaded him the bird was busy looking for mice and too hungry to bother us. But twelve hours later he managed to reawaken the horror of the owl as we went to gather up the toys in the dark. Sliding open the doors to the deck he was worried the owl might be waiting, hovering, ready to dart inside.  I reminded him that the owl would still be looking for mice somewhere else and, tentatively, he came outside. Within a few steps he took a big intake of breath.  Was it possible he'd seen that savage mean owl?  His mouth was wide as he pointed upwards and he was running on the spot. 'I see a star!' he squealed. This particular speck of light which we pass under every night was given the awesome appreciation it rightly deserves.  Sometimes it takes a three year old to make you stop and stare.
The moonlight through the trees left a dappled affect on the deck.  It was that point in the evening when you think you can only see a couple of stars and then suddenly, as your eyes become accustomed to the dark, or as the light continues to fade, you see that they freckle the sky. We could see dozens of them. The nighbours must have thought we'd uncovered a family of raccoons with all the shrieks of 'I see one! I see one!'
And then, driving home from a lengthy visit to the doctor this afternoon, and an extended wait for the antibiotics for Max's ear infection, yet again the dark was upon us and while Jack was voicing his hunger and I was thinking about what I could scrape together for supper, Oli squealed from the back seat, 'I see a star!' The full moon bright in the windscreen passed him by, but that shining solitary star - when I am feeling cheated that an hour of daylight has been stolen from me I must remember that the shorter days have given Oli the gift of a starlit sky.

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