Prisoner of the Great Indoors
Prisoner of the Great Indoors
What I might have missed last night if I had opted for the warm comfort of my bed, the cozy house with the woodstove crackling away……….if I hadn’t of awakened at 12:00 am and instead waited for the alarm to rouse me for a glimpse of the eclipse? What that it was a full lunar eclipse colored by the smoke from some far away volcano! That would have been spectacular enough but it came also on the cusp of the winter solstice, a once in a lifetime event. I got up, put on my pajamas, wrapped my warm robe around me and walked outside to view the moon, already shadowed and copper colored but still glimmering brightly.
I pulled my heavy sleeping bag out of my work truck where it rests safely for emergencies and for my trips to Dusty, New Mexico, and thought to roll it out on the ground. I thought better and rushed inside to pull the rolled mattress I use for camping and star gazing (duh!) and rolled it out first. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that sooner since regardless of the fact that it is winter the nights are still in the thirties and I have plenty of blankets. I was soon bundled in my bag with my favorite quilt thrown over it for extra warmth. In all truthfulness my outdoor bed is as comfortable as the indoor one with but one difference; it is such a challenge to get back out! A lover of the outdoors I am; of the cold night chill when scantily clad, NOT!
If I had remained a prisoner of the great indoors, entrapped by the comfort of the four walls and roof I should have missed so much in my life, including the eclipse. Such a wonder it was and I lay transfixed for over two hours as I watched the progression of the earth’s shadow as it overlapped the moon and blocked the far away sun. Over time the colors and light altered gradually and spectacularly, wavering, glowing and shimmering in the darkness. Every star came into view as the sky grew darker, meteors flashed, not one or two but three, four, five……….so many wishes to send off with those falling stars!
Even as I thought I was growing tired I could not close my eyes, I was transfixed. I worried, wondering if I had somehow damaged my vision as the light and color flickered and altered but I was unable to look away. Then, even as I thought to turn my alarm off so I might sleep later in the morning the sliver of light revealed itself on the crest of the moon as the shadows moved away. It was this I had failed to see in the beginning, trusting the newspaper that the first stage would not be visible to the naked eye. Even as I saw the shadow at first glimpse I knew I had missed something. Here it was, the gradual revealing of the light, the moon distorted by shadow, the bright glow of sunlight on its uneven orb. I stayed awake until it was over half revealed and finally went back inside.
I awoke at my usual time, in spite of being awake half the night. Truthfully, even though I was awake I still rested, my body lying still in the warmth of the sleeping bag, my mind focused on the light but relaxed and calm. I didn’t miss anything out there in the cold night, even as the wind howled down off the Vera Cruz Mountain. I knew where it was coming from, since the day I summited its heights the winds are now familiar. I am meant to be outdoors, and I thrive on it. The warm safety of four walls is a requirement but not a necessity, save for shelter from the bitter cold and storms. The days I spend in the field nourish my spirit and I would grow pale and weak otherwise; I already know this! Surely this is the malady of modern man for we linger too long under the artificial light, cringe from the sun and shrivel away in the darkness. If man has not evolved then what great strength our predecessors must have possessed to survive as they did even a scant 100 years ago when they traveled on horseback and open wagons. How many of the people today would die under such circumstances?
I watched a historic event last night, a spectacular display by nature herself and then rose to meet the dawn as well. Ahh, dawn, she was not to be outdone either and she donned her best finery so as to traipse across the morning sky in her brilliant pink dress, her tresses of gold and orange strung behind her in the wind and the lavender puffs of clouds tossed randomly across the sky in her passing. Hurray for her, she knew we would all be watching this morning after the wonders of the night; that we would be just a bit more attentive for having stayed awake. She didn’t want to disappoint us and she is not at all shy. “Come out!” she cries, you are free, the door is open!