Three Things

I recently discovered a Vermont blog that has some appeal to me. The View From the Last House in America claims to offer up “one life, lived in Vermont, and oddments.” Sounds good to me. That actually sounds about like what I’ve got here. Two posts on the site caught my attention.

One was called Who Cares What You Think? This seems a reasonable question to me. If you are going to write something that any random monkey can find, at least entertain the monkey. It is the question for anyone who cares to blog. I would love it if someone thought what I put down here interesting and worth musing over. Heck, I need affirmation as much as the next guy. But it ought to be interesting and not just pretend to be interesting. So that is my renewed challenge: to avoid proffering up tripe.

The second thing that I found interesting was a post about Seven Random Things. I like this idea. I was reading recently in Orion magazine an essay called Notes From a Very Small Island by Erik Reese. He talks about Nietzsche’s call for “an end of philosophy” and how we should really embrace art, especially poetry. He expounds on what this means to himself and I was struck by this sentence:

The true poem captures not just what is seen, but the experience of seeing. Poetry, we might say, is the aura thrown around an ordinary object to show that, in fact, it isn’t ordinary at all.

This captures well what I love about poetry. My favorite poems are about standing in line or shoveling snow or drinking beer on a porch. This idea of writing about seven random things really gets at the idea of poetry or, if one carries it back around, to philosophy. The question, if one takes on this challenge, is this: Can you find meaning in those objects and then share it in a way that has meaning to the reader? I like the idea. I’ll try it at some point.

And the third thing is this: it is snowing. The snow and rain and sleet and freezing rain (we may get all of them) might fall all night. Snow day tomorrow? I have mixed feelings about it. One one hand I get as excited as I did when I was ten when I think about school being canceled and a bonus day at home. On the other hand, it is a big old hassle to make up my meetings with students when school is closed. I don’t want to have to add a day, but I also would love to sit and watch the weather and drink some foamy coffee drink in my pajamas.

If tomorrow comes in with gray and slush and I don’t need to drive, then I will take on the seven random things challenge in the morning. If we have rain and school, then it will have to wait. In any case, even if you made it this far in this post you may still be wondering, enough to not at all consider reading the next one, Who Cares What You Think?

Seeing Stars

How many of us get out and simply watch the stars?  Do we stop to look up at night?  Can we be awed enough by the vastness and glory of the universe?  I don’t think so.

The problem around here is this:  in the summer the stars come out late and in the winter it is cold.  Even now, the air temperature drops pretty quickly when the sun goes down.  By the time the stars are at their brightest it is dang chilly.  In the summer the sun might go down after 9:00 pm.  Who remembers to look up by then?

When I wake up at night I look out the window.  Lately I can see Orion rising in the east.  This means winter is just about here.  The hunter comes out for hunting season.  I do not often go out to simply look up however.  I used to do just that but I find it harder to be motivated to take the time now.  When I do take the time I feel the same awe I always have.

I am thinking of getting a telescope.  That would motivate me to look up at night.  When I have used telescopes in the past I have seen the moons of Jupiter and the surface of Mars and the brightness of the Milky Way.  It was amazing and I can’t imagine much has changed.

I can’t see as much here in this house as I could before we moved here.  There are lots of parking lots whose owners feel a need to be able to see the empty asphalt 24 hours a day.  And there are many people who feel the need to light the porch or driveway in case the raccoons or the skunks need to see where they are going. We even have a huge street lamp that lights our road for seemingly no reason, burning all night.  All those lights fade out the stars and the show is less grand.

Tonight the clouds have moved in and Orion walks across the sky above them.  He will be there tomorrow.  Perhaps I will get a chance to greet him then.  Change has been something I have heard lots about this campaign season and I should not be left out.  Maybe one change I can make is to simply get out and see the stars.  Unlike elected officials, they will never disappoint.