Monday, June 21, 2010

A Solar Ballet

It was still dark outside when rioting birds woke me from a dreamless sleep. I'd had trouble getting to sleep last night because it was too warm. One moment I was tossing and turning and the next the cacophony of tweets and twitters pierced the dream bubble and I was suddenly awake. Less than an hour later I am awake, eyes watering and sneezing from the pine pollen. The birds have finally quieted, their clattering announcement of summer having finally arrived over. It is the summer solstice, the beginning of three months of heat and relentless light that starts with the longest day of the year. We are closest to the sun, unable to hide from the blazing glare for sixteen hours, or a touch more. The blessed balm of darkness is in short shrift today and the sun will go down in a battle that will spill blood across the skies, molten copper along the horizon, as the earth turns its face away for a brief respite before spinning back around to face the sun again. A pink blush on the horizon and then liquid fire coalesces into a spinning globe of seething fire, the engine of life in our little corner of the galaxy.

I read somewhere that the earth spins at roughly 1000 mph (seems much slower) and the sun at 60,000 mph and no one is quite sure how fast the galaxy spins away from its point of origin. The point is that this spaceship we call Earth is constantly in motion, spinning on its axis, as it dances around the sun, now close and soon farther away, pirouetting on one leg like the ballet dancer in the story of the little tin soldier who stands ever at guard on his one tin leg because there wasn't enough tin to make him whole. Everything in motion, spinning, dancing, spiraling without stop until the rubber band of creation reaches its limit and back we spin to the point of origin to wink out and burst forth once again in another Big Bang. At least that is the theory. We'll not be here in this form when it happens so we won't know when worm holes and dark matter and black holes give up their vast energy and succumb to the inexorable return to the beginning like salmon pulled over falls and against the current to the spawning grounds where they once emerged with minute tails and fins and scales like a flash of light in the rippling waters before they set off on their journey to the sea. Always in motion, ever eating and excreting and coursing through the briny waters until the moment of return when they may die along the way, spent from fighting the current rushing to the sea, never to reach the spawning grounds so the next generation can be born to take their place.

After today, after the moment when the sun crested the fiery mirage of the horizon, the days will grow shorter by a few minutes and then hours until we reached the farthest point in our dance with the sun to the shortest day in the year. Night will reign supreme for sixteen or so hours. We will have reached the tipping point and begin to dance back toward the sun and to this point one year later in our solar dance when we come nearest to the sun's embrace. Near enough to bask in its ardent gaze but not near enough to scorch the Earth's gown, spinning close, flirting with danger, and spinning away again in a timeless dance that is all about time, this solar ballet.

For this moment, this day, I wish you a happy summer solstice. The year is half gone, or maybe the year is half begun. Your choice.