Friday, December 18, 2009

We Were Like Kings

Three Wise Men with Jupiter and Venus
It was ten below when sunrise turned my hayfield the color of a burning match this morning. Closer to the coast, it was warmer by fourteen degrees, but when you're playing footsie with zero, you've got cold toes either way. Not that I mind it. I love the kind of weather that causes your nostrils to stick together and snow to crunch like sugar frosted flakes on the ground. When I was a kid, winter days like this made February feel like Christmas again.

Today's Red and Rover depicts a boy and his dog walking home after dark with a single, bright evening star to guide them. It reminds me of the other day. I'd just walked out of the grocery and happened to be following a father and son on the way to the car. Their dialogue went something like, "Daddy, what's that light up there?"

"Oh, that? I guess it's a planet or a star." He glanced at me with a question mark on his face and I responded, sharing the moment with a stranger, "It's a planet. You can tell because it's not twinkling."

He mentioned not having taken astronomy while getting junior into his car seat and since I wasn't sure if it was Venus or Jupiter, I let it go at that and put my bags in the seat next to my dog. Before leaving, though, father and I looked again at that solitary, bright point hanging mid-way between earth and eternity, to which his son had drawn our attention. You have to love little kids. While we're preoccupied with what we think is important, they have a habit of pointing out what really is.

We were like kings, the three of us -- ancient Babylonian astronomer-kings -- gazing into the evening sky and wondering. There are times when two thousand years really makes no difference at all.

This was one of them.

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