May 19, 2010

Cold Summer Nights

I'm a native east coast gal. The urban terrain is my natural habitat. So, I thought. So did everyone who knew me before we moved to Central Oregon.

I realized since moving to the dry side of the Cascades, I could better adapt to living without an Estee Lauder counter than living without the high desert and Pine Mountain Observatory. It remains a shocking realization. The internet can get me just about anything I want. But there is nowhere else on the planet that can give me this life.

It's my dream life. Since watching the astronauts walk on the moon as a kid, I've dreamed of somehow being a part of the cosmos. [funny how many of my characters seem to share that same passion] Working at Pine Mountain Observatory every summer scratches that itch. My first night working up there, a light switch turned on. I've felt lit up ever since. I love it. I love everything about it.

I love digging my thermals, winter wear and sweaters out while everyone else is digging out sandals and shorts. I love standing and freezing my butt off for hours under the deepening night skies. I love the nights with moody clouds and not many stars. I love new moons when the true glory of what's over head comes out. There are 6-10 shooting stars every hour. Wow. Just wow. What a show! It never fails to wow me. I love that I've learned to read star charts and find objects. Some I'm better at than others. When the crowd goes home, I practice and try finding new things.

I love hiking up to the summit and standing on top of the world before the night begins. I love being able to answer people's questions they've wondered for a lifetime. I love sharing what I know. I don't mind admitting what I don't know [which is a lot].

I enjoy the company of the people I work with. It's basically four of us. Four of us diehard astronomy buffs that love everything about showing the stars off on summer nights in the middle of western wilderness. I love the wilds of the west. There is such serenity in the sage toned scenes and heady scent of juniper, cedar and sage. And pine. It's not named Pine Mountain for nothing. 

It recenters me, rebalances me, relaxes me. It fuels my creative fires. So when the season ends at the end of September, I have inspiration to draw from. Then I dream of it until the following May when I get to go back.

Here's a photo I took of the new moon last Saturday night. It was still twilight, not fully dark. It doesn't get truly dark around here now until after 10 p.m. I tried to get Saturn, Mars and Venus, but since I don't have auto tracking on my telescope or the camera, they only come out as blobs.