Thursday, June 24, 2021


 The Strawberry Moon was riveting.  I gaped at the sight through binoculars, and the brilliant searchlight stared back at my wondering eyes.  The orb hovered in the summer sky, a sight both comfortingly familiar and eternally mysterious.  The landscape was ancient, great lava plains barren save for imaginary echoes.  Astronomers of Old fancied them to be seas, and named them as such.  "Sea of Crisis.  Sea of Tranquility.  Sea of Clouds."  But there's nothing there, except for the loneliness and cooled basalt.    

  The night breeze rustled the holly tree behind me, and grew to a chorus in the nearby forest.  Unseen animals rummaged through the dry leaves, and the night was alive, brimming with potential, restless in the fresh air.  Luna gazed down, and I stood in the dewy grass, awestruck.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Scorpio Moon

"Modern Man does not see God because he does not look low enough."  - Carl Jung 

 The Moon is in Scorpius.  It hangs low in the early summer sky, a giant gold balloon, caught in the treetops by an invisible string.  Ruddy Antares, alpha star of Scorpius, blazing with the intensity of the June days that preceede it, glitters in the background.  The starlight reaching my eye is old. Columbus was sailing around tonight's photons left the star, 554 years ago.  

  A Barred Owl hoots in the distance, and the dog next door fusses at some critter unseen.  I gaze up from my front yard, the dewy grass transformed into an observation deck into Infinity.  It's a sight many can see, but few notice.  

  I work with old people.  Actually, I today I worked with people.  You see, Time is a strange thing, how it renders us frail.  I think it's easier to treat people as residents, or the Elderly.  Working at an assisted living home forces me to confront the tempoary nature of my relative youth.  I helped a 96 year old version of myself the other day.  He had his suspenders, and his home built table.  He needed help getting a screw unstuck, so there I was, pliers in stronger hands, doing what he couldn't.  I helped him because it was the Right thing to do, and perhaps I'm putting a favor in the bank for the not-too-distant future.  I left his room glad to have assisted, and with another reminder of perspective.  It makes sense that people my age might treat the aged as something unrelated to their lot.  It's just easier to avoid the thought of how quickly time passes.  

  Today I played cribbage with a resident friend.  I dropped the Ms., and just called her Jean.  

  She lost her husband a few months ago, and really doesn't come out of her room.  I've been twisting her arm to come play cards, and we're having a blast (and she's coming out of her room.)  For a few minutes today, I forgot that she was old, and that I was going to be.  I think she did, too.  It felt strikingly normal at the table.  We yelled and bickered and talked trash.  "Sixteen for two."  "Sixteen isn't fifteen, Jean - what are you talking about?"  "it's a PAIR of eights, son!  Geeze."  I started to win, and gloated heartily.  

  She wasn't a grieving widow. I wasn't a staffer providing an activity for residents on the second floor.  I was...losing.  Again.  (I've never won, actually.)  We laughed and bickered some more, two people enjoying the Miraculous "Ordinary."  

  This phenomona is all around...Just like the Moon, a great golden balloon, with it's string caught in the summer forest, smiling down from Scorpius.  I guess these observation decks into Infinity abound.  






Sunday, June 13, 2021


 1:33 AM's dim yellow numbers softly lit the room.  "Huh, I wonder if the sky has cleared" I mumbled groggily to myself, stumbling out of bed.  

  It had!

  There's something delightful about a well-practiced eccentricity.  The phrase "man, I could do this in my sleep" applies especially well in these situations.  Still only half awake, it seemed a good time to test out a new arrival in the growing arsenal of telescopes.  I had actually built it for a friend, but it had returned after about a year when they weren't getting proper use of it.  (Telescopes should collect starlight, not dust - that's a maxim 'round here and with my buddies.)  

  The summer Milky Way flowed high overhead, a soft glow of innumerable stars.  And there, peeking out behind the tall pine tree, a cosmic lighthouse shone out along the shore of this celestial river.  Saturn!  

  But, the pine tree was in the way.  Lugging the telescope this way and that, playing the game of strategic angles and not waking the neighbor's dogs, I stole through my front yard like a total weirdo.  It was great.  

  Finally, I had a shot!  For the first time since the winter, Saturn swam into view in the eyepiece.  Of all the things to observe in the universe, this ringed planet is unparalleled in its perennial you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me punch.  Every time.  Especially if one hasn't seen it in a while.  (Or before.  Showing this with "sidewalk astronomy" outreach has been a highlight of my life.) 

  So there I perched on the side of a small hill in my yard, the neighbor's dog still asleep, the telescope threatening to fall off the edge, my logical mind suggesting sleep would be helpful...and Saturn, a tiny dancer with a hula hoop, the palest yellow against a velvety sky, pirouetting in a timeless dance on the shore of the Milky Way, almost 800 million miles away.   


I drank my fill of this sight, put the scope back, and drifted off to sleep.  High above my slumbering roof, the stars twinkled and Saturn spun 'round and 'round. 





Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Singing Trees


(Excerpted from my weekly "Letters from Josh" publication for my senior buddies.)

Letters from Josh

The Singing Trees                                                        Letter 57    5/30/21

    Howdy, folks!  How ya feelin’ over there?  I’m a bit dusty and sweaty, and the bathroom has no walls.  That’s right, I took a sledgehammer to ‘em tonight, preparing for a complete renovation. While that’s worthy of metaphor and philosophical discussion, I’d like to take you on...a bike ride, or at least an imaginary one. 

That’s right, “all of the sights, none of the sweat.” 

It was my dad’s birthday.  He wanted to go on a trek with his sons, so despite the 90 degree weather, Sunday afternoon found the four Urban men rolling down the hill, crossing Duke street, and setting out on a three hour adventure.  “Click click click” went our gears, downshifting to tackle the overpass flying over Telegraph road.  The May sun bleached the sidewalk, and a few cars drifted lazily on the highway below. 

There’s a certain solitude that lives amongst the bustle, and is one of my favorites.  A warm wind washed over my face, calling me forward to experience the Unknown in the Familiar.  If the flow of the city is a great river, a bicycle is a leaf swirling in the eddies in the unnoticed pools by the shore.  We wound under railroad bridges and through thickets, marveling at the din caused by Brood X, the trillion-strong cicada mob.  They flew through the air, littered the pavement, and throbbed incessantly, great hordes a few blocks away, and then right above. 

“Click click click” went our gears, shifting off the busy street, plunging down a leafy path to meet Holmes Run.  A million little kids played in the questionable water, yelling with the invincible joy of summer.  “Oooga Oooga!” I cackled as I sounded the clown bike horn bought expressly for the occasion.  (I can be a pill, although a jolly one, I like to think.)  Families strolled with picnics, dogs sniffed the wayside, and an angry young woman stalked by, wrestling with something in her mind.  I hope she succeeds, and commend her for starting in the first place.  Ahoy!  A monster hill!  Who puts a stop sign at the bottom?  “Let’s blow it!”  The graffiti on the railroad underpass barked slogans from unseen hands, and a tunnel lurked even deeper down a flight of stairs, a door to the underworld, or at least to the other side of the tracks.  Warehouse doors lined a quiet street, sleepy faces readying themselves for Monday.

The cicadas sang on in the warm May afternoon, and our gears went “click click click” in reply.  Oh, how I relish an adventure.