There are nights here on the mountainside in Ninole that make me feel attuned with Vincent. Once every week or so, the night sky opens up with a dazing display, allowing a momentary peek away from myself and out into the universe. It’s a show that can be seen partially because the few folks that are here generate their own electricity; outdoor lighting and the nighttime haze it creates that light-wash the heavens is kept to a minimum. It is dark, and save for the light from distant stars, or sunlight reflected off the moon and nearby planets, a cloudless night will reveal the heavens in unparalleled fashion.
Given the time of the month, the moon can blaze brightly in the night sky, so the darkest nights are ones that are moonless or nearly. When the moon is full and my eyes have adjusted to the outdoors, it is quite possible to traipse the open fields with the illumination it provides alone. Hanging full over the ocean to the east the reflection is sometimes almost like daylight, and the beauty is mind boggling. I have been told that given the right circumstances of moonlight and rain showers a “moon-bow” can occur, arcing across the opposing sky in all those crayon colors we are accustomed to seeing here in the daytime. I have placed this phenomena on my must see list!
Bumbling along the five minute walk down the path at night is an introduction to a world of animals in there nocturnal splendor. Spiders, as daring and intrepid as any human engineer, sling their webs across the path, spanning perhaps ten feet or more. I try to duck under or around them when possible. Neither spider nor man is happy walking into that snare in the dark. Did you know that their eyes shine yellow in the reflection of a head lamp? Other eyes also glare through the dark. A sheep’s eyes glow a bright yellow, and a prowling farm cat, waiting in ambush of a mouse or a rat will shine greenish from under the ferns.
But stop for a minute in this darkness, and if gifted with a clear sky, the broad sweep of The Milky Way will fill your eyes and your heart. Starry, starry night indeed! Countless millions of them cross overhead in a band that runs generally north to south. They form a virtual cloud of stars dividing the nearer stars twinkling to the east and west. At these moments I have felt a certain kinship with my yurt dwelling predecessors, who may very well have stepped outside to check the animals before returning to the safety and protection of their round felt homes. Surely they too looked up and wondered, marveled, and stood reverently in silent awe.