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Stories in the Stars

March 15, 2013

I have always been lucky enough to live where I can see the stars and I have spent hours wonder struck by that light show. The light from those stars is so very, very ancient. Has it passed other sentient beings on its way to me and my planet? Who was alive on this planet when that light was born so very far away? Past cultures and civilizations left their stories in the stars – stories we still tell. Where are the starry stories from my culture? Never mind that I am Canadian and defining Canadian culture at any one moment is a favourite topic for very lively discussion – where are our stories in the sky? Has the “light pollution” from our cities obliterated our desire to crane our necks and wonder at the amazing light show available on every clear night?

When I was young, I could still see the milky way and even the northern lights from my yard north of Toronto. I remember one warm summer evening when my younger brother and I were lying out under the stars and talking. I am nine years older than my youngest brother and so we did not always share adult conversations as kids. But that night we shared our hopes and dreams. My brother shared his fascination with the stars. Sometimes I remember that moment from forty or so years ago.

Now, here in the Kootenays, I tell youngsters stories about bears and the stars. First Nations people around Salmon Arm tell a story about how the bear lost its tail – the “big dipper” is part of the great bear constellation and you can clearly see a tail! The Inuit apparently tell a story about three brothers hunting for a marauding polar bear. Two were enticed into the sky by the bear and are apparently still pursuing that bear in the sky. They are now part of the constellation Orion.

I suppose that “the big dipper” – with the North Star as the tip of the handle – is part of rural culture. Dipping cold, cold water from a water pump in the farm yard with a long-handled dipper is certainly one of my favourite memories from my grandparent’s farm.

I have started to take photos of the night sky and these photos show my first successful efforts. The photos will improve as I move to different areas around home, take photos of the lake at night and explore images from the sky at night.

But, as I said, I am lucky enough to live where I can still see the stars. Share that gift if you too are still lucky enough to live under the stars. It is a natural wonder that is still free and still totally amazing.

Orion in a late winter sky

Orion in a late winter sky

Dusk on a late winter evening

Dusk on a late winter evening

all photos and writing on this blog copyright Joanne Siderius

4 Comments
  1. I am fortunate to live in a rural area where I can see the night sky without all the pollution. Your post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.” – Paul Hawken

    • Yes, indeed. I am just glad no entrepreneur has figured out a way to charge us for watching them…

      Cheers!

  2. I’m fortunate to be able to view the stars also. I love it! When I was a child, I used to love laying in the grass at night trying to count stars. šŸ™‚

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