Poor Will's Almanack: June 4 - 10, 2013

Jun 4, 2013

Painted turtle
Credit Flick Creative Commons user Mark L. Watson

The sky seems so very far away, and moon and stars and planets so out of reach, constellations hidden often by clouds and haze. But really a person might simply look around to find the heavens. The land has a galaxy of signs, astronomical resource of delicate and fragrant detail.

All along the 40th Parallel, the land is on the cusp of early summer, and in the shade, fire pink, and honewort are flowering. At the edge of the forest, wild plants include blue-eyed grass, silver yarrow, yellow sedum, bright moneywort, daisies, yellow sweet clover, wild roses, wild iris, dock, and smooth brome grass.

And we and all these gifts and the Earth that carries us are not in isolation, but connected tightly to the wide universe in the planet’s tilt against the sun.

When young blackbirds join their parents to harvest the ripening cherries and mulberries and painted turtles are out laying eggs, then, at ten o’clock at night, the boxy Libra lies due south along the horizon after dark. When fireflies glow in the grass, then the Corona Borealis and its outrider Arcturus move directly overhead two hours after dark.

Even though the spinning sky would seem to have no care for vagaries of flora, the land’s reflection is always true. If one travels to the 45th or the 35th Parallel, the flawless correspondence between Heaven and the Earth need not fail.

In the South, all the blossoms of early summer align with Libra at three in the morning instead of ten at night. Along the Canadian border, well before dusk, the stars would barely shine, but there they would be, all the petaled markers of the cosmos.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the Third Week of Early Summer. In the meantime, whatever you see around you at home or along the highway, is a map of the stars above you.