This is a daggy little thing my friend KL sent me.
It’s appropriate because on Wednesday night ... we watched Comet McNaught in the western sky over the sea out at St Kilda - what a sight. (Please note - I do not and never intended to, take credit for this amazing photo - if it doesn't show the name of the person who took it, and such things matter to you, please click on it to find out who the clever person was.)
And not to be outdone, there off to the right was the very moon of which the song speaks, slipping down behind the hills of Kew - a C-shaped moon, which in the Southern Hemisphere means it’s into its first quarter; whereas in the Northern Hemisphere the first quarter is a D-shaped moon. Being married to a science teacher you see, means I get to know all these things about how the solar system works. (Which because of my non-retentive brain, have to be explained to me over and over because I always forget.)
The comet was glorious - bright and clear. Its long tail flowing behind it like a frozen shower of fireworks, is actually 300 million kilometers long. The Southern Cross was up and a little to the east of the comet - easily found by first locating the two bright marker stars. And the pot - or saucepan - which in our part of the sky is the bottom half of Orion’s belt and sword, was farther over towards north-east. We watched the sinking moon and the glory of a comet heading west, to the accompaniment of tree frogs and the beat of St Kilda's surf.
Speaking of wonders, another is - Baby H ... my charge through the day Monday to Thursday. I am besotted and beguiled; every little burp and sneeze is a marvel. My whole working day revolves around his routine - his sleeps, his gurgles, his feeds, his nappies (which I better explain to my American friends, are what you call ‘diapers’.) All of these are of major note. And meaningful stuff. He is his own marvellous little miracle. His own amazing production line. And so the day goes, watching his every move, listening to every coo and chortle. I sing ‘Eency Weency Spider’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and smile and laugh and open my mouth wide and huff and talk and go ‘Beeedy beedy bop’ - you know, all those silly things you do with babies. And he thinks I am funny and fascinating and wonderful - and I think he is too - so there’s this mutual appreciation-buzz-thingy going on the whole day long. Most days, because he and his family live in an apartment right in the city, we go out for a quick coffee - he sleeps and I read the newspaper and drink my long-black-with-milk-on-the-side. But the best thing about being Baby H's nanny is - I don’t get to do the 3.00 a.m. feeds! There’s a wonderful cut-off point when I say good-bye to beautiful, Baby H and go back to my other life. Perfect.
And I have Fridays off too - thus giving me a three-day weekend. Today was Friday - the sun came out and ABM & I pruned some more branches to give us a far view from our kitchen window through to our back section. All we need now is a rustic seat placed there to give the illusion of days spent sitting under trees. I did sit out on our front deck to eat my lunch and spotted a kereru (which aren't hard to miss!) sitting in one of the silver birches. I took a peek at it through the binoculars, marvelling again at the markings - the white baker’s apron, the iridescent bottle-green feathers, the tiny head with red-rimmed eyes. I also saw little wax-eyes with their short attention spans, a couple of fantails looping the loop, as well as the inevitable yahooing seagull on its way to the beach. And of course, as always, the ever-present, talkative sparrows. (Once again, here are flickr photos of a couple of the birds I mention.)
Last night at 1.30 a.m., I finished reading Clare Dudman’s ‘One Day The Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead’. It’s about Alfred Wegener, a much-overlooked German scientist who first mooted the idea of continental drift. His theories in the larger scheme of things, turn out to be vital in determining the way the earth was geologically formed, and is still forming and changing. Wegener basically spent his life trying to convince and prove to other experts that his theory was right. The details and descriptions in this book are expertly crafted by Clare, and they effortlessly place the reader into the frame of time and place. I was especially satisfied by the descriptions of the icy wildernesses of the far northern terrains of Greenland and Iceland - the ice formations and colours, the descriptions of tiny flowers, of lights in the sky, of light reflected through ice, of mirages and the delusions, the realities and the clarity on both clear, cold days and in among the frozen mists and wastes when sky and earth revolve as one; the impact of wind and of extreme cold. The smell of unwashed humans in close contact, the sound of sledge runners, the effect of ice on skin and environment; the taste of pemmican. The agony of fruitless death. The ecstasy of a day going well, with smooth ground underfoot and blue sky overhead. There is not a detail missed. Clare has an intuitive feel for character portrayal and for place. Her writing is strong and clear. Not that I was consciously thinking about that as I was reading, I was just enjoying the story. Wegener’s personality and life, told in his own voice, is brilliantly drawn by Clare. The scientific, more technical side of his life, fascinating in itself, is nicely balanced by the portrayal, both affectionate and incisive, of his domestic life and inner conundrums. He has a touching vulnerability I warmed to and an appreciation of life’s bitter-sweetness that I could identify with. It has all you look for in a good book - tension, strength, reality, the power to take you right to the heart of place, and characters who fascinate and engage. The story has a sweet sadness beautifully portrayed by a master storyteller. I like a book I start reading and immediately trust. A book I know is going to take me to places I wouldn't otherwise be able to go. Clare's 'One Day The Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead' is such a book. Order it from Amazon and read it! You'll be glad you did.