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As above, so below

June 8, 2012

I went out walking with my housemate late last night.  We passed through the lights and engines of the streets to the darkness of the natural area around one of the creeks.  Under overhanging trees like walls and ceilings in the night, with gravel crunching under our feet and the water tumbling down in the gorge on our right, we wandered up to the old city reservoir where the forest opens out into a field.  In daylight this field is full of wildflowers and you can sit on the slope and look out over the reservoir at the hills beyond; at night, dark trees fringe the arc of the sky.

It was a clear night.  Down by the water, a bullfrog made sounds like a distant foghorn.  We turned off our headlamps and settled down to contemplate the stars.  Neither of us had star maps – I had sent mine home, and hers had gotten lost in the recent move – so we pooled our knowledge of the heavens and came up with the names of a few of the constellations, with some wild guesses for the rest.  And then, as happens on late-night hikes, we drifted into silence and our own separate thoughts.

A few airplanes blinked through the starry sky, far enough away that their engines didn’t disturb the rushing of water and chirping of crickets.  And down in the darkness of the bushes and trees and grass, and drifting through the air all around me, blinked the lights of hundreds of fireflies.  It seemed as though the earth was mirroring the sky – tiny, brief-lived creatures turning their beacons towards the ancient stars and saying yes, I’m here too, and we are kin.

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