Yesterday I watched as the sun set behind these trees, turning rippled clouds first mandarin orange and then flamingo pink before darkening to indigo grey. It takes time, but only a very few minutes, and at sunset I would rather stop and do nothing else but watch the light fade and the colours change. The greater light giving way to the lesser, which here on the edge of town means street lamps, and not starlight. Sometimes not even the moon. Oh, how I miss the stars!
I grew up in a time and a place where on a cloudless night the sky was a firmament filled with stars, and when we were out after dark we would find our way by the light of a torch or by moonlight. I realise that there are children growing up in our towns and cities now who have never seen a starry sky. I don’t know why this fills me with such sadness; perhaps because in this season before Christmas everywhere you look you see images of stars, but they are just that – images – no more real than Santa Claus, and the experience of looking to the night sky in wonder and awe, and the idea of navigating by the constellations or finding a particular star to follow is for most people no more than something you read about, or see in pictures.
I still get the chance now and again to find myself in a place where the skies are clear and unpolluted by artificial light, and then on a cloudless night I can stand once more with my head back, gazing into infinity and marvelling at the unfathomable, indescribable beauty of the stars. Until I can do that again, I have sunsets, and sunrises, to watch and wonder at.