Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lights Across The Water

There is something quite peaceful and beautiful about a NH lake on a still, clear night. You have to wait for the teenagers on the lake to pipe down before you can get to that point, but it is pleasant nonetheless.

The brighter, bluer lights, usually for security purposes somewhere are less attractive and bothersome. There's nothing for it. You can't expect people to make things less safe just so your visual preferences are addressed. But looking across a lake, lights on the other side, is a picture of tranquility. You can see those places a homey and cheery without actually having to deal with any of the possibly annoying folks staying there. Inns look that way to travelers, at least in English literature

Perhaps it is because there are few places in NH with a lengthy view and a good patch of sky other than hilltops and lakes (NH - The Small Sky State), and I like views. It was many years ago, before Ben was even born, that I set out well after from Cow Island, heading over to Skip Brown's Marina in a canoe. Absolutely still, with the stars easily visible in reflection. I didn't know the constellations then, just Orion and The Big Dipper, but I thought I could tell which were Mars and Venus.

I learned many of the Constellations later, in an effort to acquire knowledge that wasn't going to change next year. Natural history is good for that. I paid some attention year 'round, even with the light pollution and high trees of my neighborhood, but the clearest looks were always in summer, looking south across a lake from a Lutheran camp.

Different lake, different camp, different denomination, but still looking south, so Scorpio and Sagittarius still dominated the horizon, the Summer Triangle the overhead, in late summer. Sagittarius is supposed to be an archer, but that's only because they didn't have teapots when they were first naming them in the Middle East. It's clearly a teapot. I don't know what we would make of the collection of stars we call Ophiuchus now, but guy-holding-a-big-snake probably wouldn't leap to mind anymore in this culture.


Doug W said...

"clearest looks were always in summer, looking south across a lake from a Lutheran camp."
I remember those nights fondly.

Retriever said...

We have a view but it is more and more cluttered with eyesores, human built. Dirt roamds. No Internet, so I resent looking at power lines and power plant. Also, much light pollution in last 25 years: we used to be able to stargaze better. But it makes me happy seeing all those tiny clearings with people's dream houses in them, lights winking at night. Taxes up and up to pay for the schools. Sadly, for sale signs on 50% of those dream houses now (bought with funny mortgages...). And who knows how anybody earns a living? Land is poor, hilly, rocky.

Gringo said...

I grew up in the country with the night sky. I have deeper memories of the winter night sky than of the night sky in summer. I have lived the second half of my life in the city. I miss seeing the stars.