Archive for August, 2012

CB and me

August 13, 2012

If you’d been heading to work on Rt. 250 in Charlottesville the morning of 8/14/2008, you might have looked up at the car wash sign that commemorates wedding anniversaries and birth days and seen this message.  For 7 years, my dear friend Scott has insisted that my birthday is not solely my own but my cat Clarabelle’s as well.  Arranging the wording with the car wash owner, he tried to include “best friends.”  “I can’t do that,” the old man explained.  “Everyone would want it then.”

This year my birthday will be mine alone to celebrate.  I will miss that tabby more than I can express, but it eases my grief when I think of how she’s free from suffering now.  Star-gazer that I am, I feel the appropriateness of her making her exit on the day the waning moon occulted Venus.  The bravest creature I’ve ever met, she taught me that to love means taking risks.  I didn’t want another cat when she adopted me — let alone the four kittens she delivered soon after– but it was the smartest decision I made in 2001.

I have so many stories, so many images, that I could bore anyone who didn’t already know what a fabulous companion Clarabelle was.  Still, I can’t resist posting one last image of her standing guard duty in her favorite spot — her Earlysville backyard.  I hope her wise spirit is ranging there once more.   Good bye, dear friend.


Too Many Birthdays, Never Enough Stars

August 9, 2012

This morning I awoke at 5 a.m. to call the cats in and looked up to find a waning moon just a hair’s breath from last quarter with Jupiter, Aldebaran and even the faint tracings of the Pleiades high above.  Eager to see Venus, I got outside as soon as I could, and there she was, shining next to a bright, ruddy star.  Double-checking it wasn’t Aldebaran, I realized it was Betelgeuse, the shoulder star of Orion.  Sure enough, there he was, the ‘Ghost of the Summer Dawn,’ pulling back his arrow (or hoisting his sword), rising majestically before the sun.

Thoughts of winter passed through my mind, the season when Orion and Sirius stride high across the night sky.  With the zinnias, dahlias, and crape myrtle exploding like fireworks and more tomatoes and melons than I can eat, it’s easy to focus on summer’s bounty.  Orion will wait patiently, knowing his time will come.

Another reason I’d rushed out before the dawn was the hope that, with the clear sky and despite the light pollution that thwarts my sky-gazing, I might see a meteor.  The Perseids are coming!  Indeed, the Perseids are already here.  As I craned my neck to scan, I wondered how many years ago I first learned about this meteor shower, how many mid-August nights I have stood, earth-bound, head tilted, waiting for a glimpse of this breath-taking celestial display.  More than 30 years, I can say with certainty.  A third of a lifetime, with more years of meteor-watching ahead.

Not counting the day of my birth, by the end of next week I will have celebrated 47 birthdays on this planet.  I never would have thought it would come to this.  But I suppose that’s how we get through most things . . . by not thinking too much about the task at hand, by appreciating instead what’s in front of us — or high above:  the beauty of the stars, of the natural world, of the small miracles of  kindness we receive every day from friends and strangers.  Too frantic about my place in the world when I was younger, I wasn’t able to articulate my appreciation for these gifts.   But the Perseids come around each August, seen or unseen, to remind me that gratitude is always the best, the timeless, answer.