2011/365/003: January Stars

(Image, “January Stars,” by Nicc Balce. Check out all of Nicc’s great work
at http://robotnicc.deviantart.com/gallery/)

I’m a huge George Winston fan (solo piano), and I’ve got most of his works. He’s most popular for releasing seasonal collections (Autumn, December, Winter into Spring, and Summer), but he’s also got a solid collection of thematic CDs (Montana, Plains, and Forest) that I find absolutely mesmerizing. There’s a track on the Winter into Spring CD that stands above the others, though, especially in early January. It is called “January Stars,” and it’s one of my constants throughout this first month of the new year.

Last night, I spent a few minutes outside on what turned out to be a crystal-clear evening. A northern front was passing by, and the cold winds were pushing the warmer temperatures out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Everything just seemed to snap: the brisk weather, the moonless starlit sky, and the odd absence of holiday traffic. I found myself suddenly transported to the shores of Chesapeake Bay, circa 1850, where there was no sign of technology, no sign of manmade products. Just January Stars.

And Winston’s piano playing somewhere in the background, an acoustic accompaniment to this natural sight, something my mentors in graduate school at Goucher would permit me to call, “Awesome.”

Living in a residential community called Campus Hills just outside the heart of Towson, I am smack-dab in the middle of the classic definition of Suburbia. Everything I need is within a mile’s reach, yet my single-family home is nicely shaded in a quiet community, and my backyard is big enough for trampolines and “cross-country” obstacle courses that my two younger kids like to create. You would think that being in the middle of a small, wanna-be city like Towson, the lights around town would wash out the stars, even on moonless nights like we’re having right now. But that’s not the case. These January Stars are as accessible to me here as they were when I lived on the shores of Chesapeake Bay many years ago. Those days, we would take a blanket out on the beach and just stare for hours at their beauty, awestruck by Orion, Taurus, and all the other constellations that took center stage.

Looking up at them today is no different than it was in the late ‘80s. Their brilliance, their clarity, their reminder of many things bigger than I can ever imagine keep me focused on my place, my purpose, my belief in the yet-to-be-imagined.

And the greatest part of all of this? I may not have the time in my life right now to throw blankets on the shores to stargaze for hours, but that’s okay. These reminders come within a few seconds of glancing upward with an open mind and grateful heart.

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