Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 24, 2010

Have I mentioned the Stars?

Lots of nights up here at the farm, there’s a fair amount of cloud cover. We’re not far from the western plateau of the Laurel Highlands and most of our weather comes from that direction. Because of the drop in land elevation at the border between Somerset and Bedford Counties, the clouds rolling in from the west bring moisture with them when they come. The area’s not drought proof by any means, but it’s routinely less dry here than it tends to be south or east of here.

The consistency in rainfall helps with continuity in farming and farm families. It’s one of the reasons the people who settled the region two-hundred and fifty years ago are still here. And the rain has a way of spreading itself around, not dumping all at once. This too is good for producing crops at levels one can count on. All in all, a good area for farmers. And happily, it doesn’t rain here all the time.

Better than that, it isn’t cloudy all the time either. And a clear night here at the farm is practically a spectacle in itself. It’s not quite Vegas, but it has a lasting quality of attraction that neon and marquees lose with long-term exposure.

There’s no light pollution up here. The nearest large community is more than ten miles away. The nearest city is forty miles away, Cumberland, MD. There are a few lights from neighboring farms visible after dark here, but one has to be standing in the ‘right’ place to see them at all. If one were to take a short stroll to the ridge behind the barn, even those few signs of human habitation would be invisible.

And that short stroll is more than worth the effort. Because the stars up here are really off the hook amazing. The don’t just twinkle. They glitter and sparkle and shine and burn like William Blake’s tyger.

The Milky Way actually whitens its part of the sky up here. Constellations are easy to pick out, even their lesser stars are fully visible. I love being able to see all seven of the Pleiades, and their parents too. I can practically feel the earth turning with the galaxy as I watch the majestic scenery shifting overhead.These blue-black nights with their radiant adornment of the lights of heaven are not to be missed.

I’ve heard that the night sky is even more brilliant and compelling at the equator. I wouldn’t know about that, as I’m not widely traveled in the more southerly latitudes. But I don’t pine for those far away, exotic places.

I have more access to the glory of eternity here in my own backyard than I might have dreamed possible only a couple of years ago. I had resigned myself to the scorched yellow-orange sky of suburbia and the dim glimmer of the brightest stars through the veil of light pollution.

The precious, nearly forgotten luxury of a view of the stars turns out to be the icing on the cake of this lovely place. I would be jealous of me if I were someone else. It’s almost too much to compass.

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