Under Orion’s Eyes

I’d like to blame the cat, but nerves get the credit, I suspect. That and mis-reading the clock so I thought it was 0615 and not 0515. The cat did not complain about being fed an hour early, and I was reaching for my keys when I thought, “Hang about, it’s still rather dark,” and peered more closely at the clock. Oh well, I was up and dressed and had keys, so out I went.

The first of the autumnal cold fronts had washed through the day before, and the morning felt crisp and cool, a lovely combination after a relatively muggy summer. The wind shift had washed the dust and such out of the air, and with the moon setting, the stars were bright. Orion had crossed the tree line and glittered down at me. Enough false dawn lit the eastern sky that his head and club were invisible, but the familiar and comforting pattern of shoulders, belt, sword, and knees hung high in the sky.

Comforting? Yes. I’m not sure when Orion rising became my touchstone. It means summer and storm season are over. The best part of the year, the crisp, cool, spicy time has come, short days, long nights, bright stars, wood-smoke in the air and apples and pumpkins and good things. It is the time of harvest, then rest after labor.

And something odd, something a little wild, a little fae, the long-buried sense in the back of the mind that the days are growing shorter. Will they ever grow long again? It took an ice-storm and a night huddled in a basement apartment listening to transformers explode and trees breaking and falling, followed by a cold day and night of more breaking trees before I understood in my gut why my ancestors worshiped the sun.The skies cleared overnight, and the next morning, when a red-gold ball rose in the east and turned the ice into rubies and diamonds, and promised a respite from the storm, I understood. And that night? Orion, rising above the trees an hour after sundown.

I set a personal best that morning – a touch under three miles in 45 minutes, without anything hurting. There wasn’t any road traffic, one dog-walker appeared as I entered the “home stretch” and a few very sleepy birds rustled. A faint northerly breeze stirred, but nothing like the overnight wind that had stripped leaves and dropped a few small branches from the usual self-pruning trees. The air smelled clear, if that makes sense, and sweet. The sunrise was rather plain, but by then I was home, morning chores done, and well into my second cup of tea.

“Orion will rise with the moon.”

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4 thoughts on “Under Orion’s Eyes

  1. What a pleasant (if accidental) start to the day! Mine involved grudgingly emerging from bed when the alarms sounded.

    Total tangent: This post made me think of Poul Anderson’s “Orion Shall Rise,” which I don’t think I’d thought of in ages.

  2. Ah, the morning sky, poor man’s time travel as most only see the evening sky those months later. And the cool night air seasoned with starlight. Perhaps there is no elixir panacea, but that does come close. I think I might need to see about getting a good does of it – increasingly difficult in overlit and paranoid times.

    • Yes. I bitterly resent Mal-Wart’s use of the tall, blue-white, unshielded parking lot lamps that washed out a large portion of my night sky. But then I remember being in New York City (Manhattan Island) and being almost unable to see the moon because of all the light. Ick.

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