Saturday, August 17, 2013

White Cat Solar System

Bleary-eyed, I sat on the commode looking out the bathroom window. There was once a screen in the window but the landlord removed it four years ago when I toilet had to be replaced. The screen sits on the porch repelling mosquitoes, moths, and insects, ground-based and with wings, from a spot on the corner near the old gas, electric, and water meters and I have a clear view into the parking lot that encompasses two-thirds of my cottage.

Into this predawn world strolled a white cat and I perked up immediately as I always do when an animal is nearby. I patted the window sill and called to her (it must have been a female with her aloof and silent manner). She cocked her head at me and took a couple of tentative steps. I called again, "Here, kitty, kitty," and patted the window sill. She looked serenely about her and gracefully padded closer, stopping every few steps to glance about and take the lay of the land.

As she came closer, her left eye glowed a brilliant amber and I held my breath. She was lovely with white fur so perfect and clean. I wanted to hold her on my lap and hear her purr as I stroked and caressed her. She moved closer and the gold of her left eye was nearly eclipsed by the brilliance of her right eye, which seemed at a distance to be blue, the purest crystal blue of a South Pacific island lagoon. She moved closer, each step a lithe dance of springtime and youth and slender trees swaying in a soft breeze. Yes, the right eye was blue, but the left eye was like ancient amber, brilliant warm gold.

She came to the edge of the planter box on the side of the house beneath the bathroom window and no further, pausing with tilted head and artful glance before strolling off along the planter to disappear around the corner of the cottage.

At that moment when I saw this glorious little white cat, I smiled and have smiled randomly throughout the day as summer made its presence known. Her cool glance is all the respite I shall have today since the clouds that have come and gone for the past two months have gone, leaving behind gossamer cirrus clouds wafting along in the Colorado blue sky.

I retreated to my bedroom where I cross stitched while watching and listening to travels among the planets to the farthest reaches of the solar system. The marvels above are as beautiful and distant as the white cat this morning and provoke as many smiles as sighs.

To see the pitted iron ball of Mercury molten in the face of the sun and frozen when it turns away its face is stirring. Venus with its corrosive clouds of acids and volcanic landscape is as mysterious as Mars and its red face and volcanoes towering above  even the most devastating sand storm. Jupiter's red spot tantalizes as it swirls around the planet, a storm that would engulf the Earth, but the moons are spectacular and strange. Io's geysers and volcanic eruptions change the landscape every day while Europa sleeps beneath a watery ice covering that hides the possibility of life. Ganymede generates it's own magnetic field and Callisto sleeps in ancient dream beneath a pitted surface of meteor strikes and sleeping volcanoes that may never rouse again.

Saturn's rings are the remains of dozens of moons while the rest dodge collisions among the numerous rings of ice and rock shepherded by smaller moons. Among the rings of Uranus the moons have an easier go and with the incomplete rings standing above the planet. Miranda may have been smashed and reformed like a jigsaw puzzle, but the moons of Ariel, Umbriel, and Oberon keep company with the shepherd moons of Cordelia and Ophelia that keep a swarm of eight smaller moons from crashing into or increasing the size of Uranus's ten rings.

Neptune, watery Neptune, far from the sun and more beautiful that the sea. Neptune has waked from its icy sleep long enough to capture Triton, a moon so cold it freezes a thought before it's born, but Triton still has its way since it circles Neptune retrograde, moving closer and closer as gravity pulls it in for a final kiss that in billions of years will spin Triton's remains into another ring of debris and ice. Nereid, Proteus, and the remaining moons keep close to Neptune's side, mere shadows in orbit.

Beyond where Neptune holds sway as the guardian of the inner planets lurks Pluto, once a planet and now deemed lesser than its companions in spite of capturing its own move with the force of its embrace. Charon circles Pluto in a close dance, but not until Voyager went by was it possible to see that this downgraded planet has four more chaperons in its journey through the universe: Nix, Styx, Hydra, and Kerberos.

As much as we see and think we know, there is always more to learn, more to see, more to experience. Satellites and orbiting satellites show us so much of our neighbors and the vastness of the universe, but how can ignore the yearning to see with our own eyes the wonders before and around us?

Like the white cat with her mesmerizing eyes of blue and green I enticed closer this morning, I long to push out among the stars and planets and moons and touch the face of the Universe. I may not hold it on my lap or caress it while it purrs, but I can get close enough to see the bright spots of possibility among the black void in between.

NOTE:  The photo is called White cat on a cushion is by Rebecca Korpita

No comments: