sun's going to shine in my back door someday

... well, it already does, but it's going to shine some more. Yesterday sitting out on the front step after returning from taking my sons on the train up the coast - always a melancholy ride back - I saw how the sun's coming this way again from its mid-winter pause in the north. That moment when you see the light gaining always comes with an involuntary surge of optimism. It was a clear blue afternoon and, just for an hour or so, warm enough to throw all the windows in the flat wide open to get the air moving through. I went back out later and saw how some kind of bulb - crocus or narcissus - is pushing up half a dozen green spears through the hard dirt between the slabs of bushrock by the door. And that, although the last pink frilly hibiscus bloom lies browning on the path, the first, also pink, flower on the azalea that grows next to it has opened. Later still I saw the new moon with the old moon in its arms, westering, and, halfway between crescent and horizon, Venus and Mercury side by side - the one blazing on the fading azure, the other an unwavering point of light. And, even later, Jupiter, which I've been tracking since its occultation a few weeks ago, also settling in the west. Was taken by a sense of the physical dimension of where we are: the sun just gone, the planets lined up between earth and sun or between earth and the wilder reaches of space, the moon, much closer, too. And remembered how for much of my adult life I sought just this sense of placement in the larger scheme of things. A sense not to be arrived at by analytical study nor obsessive observation but intuitively, the way we often know the hour of day or night. The way, perhaps, someone who lives a long time by the sea can tell without thinking what the tide, and thus the moon, is doing. A truly archaic sense. I can usually reckon the phases of the moon. I recall more or less where to look for the larger constellations and at what time of year they will be rising or setting. But the planets ... are hard to figure, especially in the light polluted skies of a big city. The understanding (standing under) comes and goes. But, when it comes, it's good ... throw your arms around me like a circle around the sun ...

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