Friday, July 20, 2007

The night sky

Spent the night last night at a roadside pulloff somewhere in the middle of Montana, in the high plains about 3 miles from the middle of nowhere. You can see where on my map, where I marked the location "change of plans".

It was *really* dark and a storm in the mountains was blocking the moon. Billions of stars in the sky and the milky way quite distinct, quite easy to see. Amazing. And it was so quiet, except for the odd truck passing every 10 minutes or so.

I'll try to share it with you.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and picture this. You're on the high plains grasslands, you can see for miles. There are no trees, only tall grass, all you can see is grass in the ever so gently rolling hills. For miles and miles. There's nobody around, no civilization, no roads, no cars.

Picture a mountain range dominating the horizon, perhaps 10 miles distant.

There is no sound except your own breathing.

Now, picture it being nighttime. There is no grass, no hills, no mountains. Only stars. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of stars. Given a lifetime you wouldn't be able to count them all.

Remember the mountains. Above the mountains sits a thunderstorm, the heavy clounds block out perhaps one fourth of the sky, as if heavens themselves have been consumed by nothingness and ceased to exist. Being nighttime you cannot see these clouds, all you can perceive is the nothingness. There are so many stars that you can easily distinguish the outline of this nothingness, a gentle curve of darkness consuming the stars.

Lightning flashes in the mountains, you see only the light, there is no sound. Only silence. And the sound of your own breathing.

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