Monday, June 18, 2012

Looking Up

What happens when you're 35 weeks pregnant and getting over being sick? And yet still finding yourself quite busy? A post from the (hidden) archives! As I described in a post some months ago, I have in "draft" form a handful of vignettes I wrote a few years back about the stars and why I love them. It's a series of posts I do intend to see to its conclusion, even if they seem a little out-in-left-field when they appear. The last time I shared one such post was back in April. And of late I've been reflecting on how I plan to share this love with my little one when she arrives next month. And so, as these thoughts percolate in my ever-nesting mind, here is my next post in this series...


Image courtesy of NASA and ESA / Hubble Space Telescope

The house I grew up in is on a hill. While there is some ambient light from the nearby towns, on a clear night the stars are quite visible in our yard. When I still lived there, one of my favorite moments of every day was after dark, during the walk from the car to my front door. Since I grew up in this house, I knew the path very well: walk down the driveway, take one step up onto the patio, walk another five paces and then walk up four steps to our porch. I could do the walk with my eyes closed, which was a good thing because on this walk, every time...

I looked up.

Even if the sky was not clear, I'd still attempt to penetrate the cloud cover with my vision and imagine the stars hidden behind. On clear nights I just soaked in the view. Partly cloudy nights were my favorite though, because I had about fifteen paces to search out and grab with my eyes as many of the stars as I could. It was a game we played, the stars and I.

And now, looking back on it, I think it's safe to say that I always won, whether I saw many stars on my short walk or not. I say this because, in retrospect, these playful attempts to seek out the stars amid the clouds, and my insistence to myself that they were there just beyond the cloud cover whether I could catch them or not, were the real reward.


  1. so sorry you've been sick! hang in there! loved this post! (((hugs your way))) and lighting a candle for you!

    1. Thank you Elizabeth, dear! I am very grateful for the prayers, and know that you have mine as well--for safe travels this week, and the avoidance of illness throughout.

  2. I'm also sick, so I feel your pain (maybe partially, since I'm not pregnant). Do your best to recover before the big day. I was sick while in labor. Although it wasn't the end of the world or anything, it was hard to follow any breathing patterns with a congested nose :-( As always, the Jesus prayer helped.

    As for the stars, I love them so much, too! Where we live now, it's hard to see any (too much glow from NYC). But in Eastern Kazakhstan, the sky is overflowing with stars. My parents have a modest vacation log on a lake and there's a tiny makeshift pier there. On a clear night, my mom and I would put blankets on the pier and lie down on our backs. While soaking up the awe of the view, we would recite Lermontov's famous poem "I come out to a path alone..." (see below) and try to identify constellations. The memory of that, infused with the aroma of the summer steppe grasses and herbs, is the essence of my childhood.

    You know, surprisingly, I've never thought of "sharing this love with my little one", as you say. I think it's a great idea. Maybe I should make a quilt with stars or crochet lacy star ornaments for her room (I gravitate towards home-made stuff, no glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling for me). If you have other ideas, please share, I would be delighted to discuss. :-)

    Lermontov's Poem:

    I come out to a path, alone;
    Night is still. The desert sees the Lord.
    Through a mist, the road gleams with stone;
    Stars are speaking softly in accord.

    Dignified and marvelous are heavens!
    Earth is sleeping in a pale-blue light...
    Why is then my heart so sore and heavy?
    Hope? Regret? What's keeping it alight?

    No more hope for what life could propose,
    And for past I do not have regret;
    I seek after freedom and repose!
    I should yield to sleep and just forget...

    Yield to sleep, but not to freeze forever.
    Not a dreamless frigid sleep of death:
    Let my breast be full of dozing fervor
    For the life, and heave in gentle breath;

    Someone's sweetest voice then would be ready
    Day and night to sing to me of love,
    And the oak, forever green and shady,
    Would recline to me and swish above.

  3. Valentina, what a beautiful poem and reflection! I especially love the last stanza--how lovely! And I love the image of you and your mother watching the stars together in Eastern Kazakhstan. What a beautiful childhood memory. As for how I hope to share this love of the stars with our little Rosebud, well, if you'd believe it, one of the shower gifts from the baby shower in NJ is already getting my mind going in this direction. It is a toy turtle (called Twilight Turtle :) ) which functions as a nightlight, and projects stars onto the nursery ceiling in three different colors. There are even constellations to be found in the stars that are projected. Put simply, I would have *loved* a night light like this is a kid (I was one that *did* want glow in the dark stars on my ceiling--my mother didn't consent though, alas). Funny/endearing story: Paul and I are already using Twilight Turtle in our own room, we love it :), and we're excited to share it with Rosebud since she'll be sleeping in the room with us for a while once she's on this side of the womb. Anyway, that's a start, in terms of how I hope to share the stars with her (we, too, are in a city setting, residential though it is, which means the stars are not that clear here at our little homestead). That being said, I LOVE the idea of a constellation, if only I knew how to quilt! :)

    1. Donna, I know exactly what you're talking about! Twilight Turtle! But, of course! It's very popular. I've heard tons of super-positive reviews about it. I had not known about it until Anya was 6 months. When I finally learned about it and saw one at a local BuyBuyBaby, I was wondering if I should get it. However, at the time, it struck me that Anya is absolutely not afraid of the dark and I wanted to keep it that way. I decided that I would not want to get her used to having a light on (even if dim) when falling asleep. So, we still don't own one, but I bet the experience is magical. You'll have dear family memories of bonding cuddles under the stars, and that's very sweet. As for quilting, ask your hubby. I heard he knows how to use a sewing machine ;-)