The big dipper
I don’t know much about astrology, I don’t know many constellations, but like every Alaskan I could always find the big dipper. When it’s your state flag your kinda obligated. In fact because of the star watching conditions in AK , I learned to find it very quickly. You see in Alaska star gazing can be a wee bit tricky. First of all, in the summer the extremely long days tend to make the stars professional hide and seekers, unless you like to stay up way past midnight. In fact other than camping trips or overnight boat trips, I don’t recall hardly ever seeing the stars from may to August. Then about September the stars really start popping fom the AK sky. Unfortunately it comes with a price, your body heat. And it continually worsens throughout the year, which is unfortunate because it always appeared to me that the colder it was the brighter the stars were. It seemed as though the stars themselves developed a layer of hoarfrost on them causing them to sparkle more majestically. But it was a rare, a very rare occasion that I could stand to be outside soaking in their glorious praise of God’s creation before my nose froze shut.
So to truly enjoy them I had to stay up late or freeze. Instead I would take quick glances, find the big dipper and revel in the fact that it was always there as dependable as the sunrise. Familiar,comforting and belonging to Alaska
That all changed when we moved to Costa Rica. Now I can look at the stars every night. Now I don’t freeze and now it gets dark every day all year long around 6 pm. Now star gazing is almost a daily event. Except that there is one big hole for me, the Big Dipper. As hard as I try I cannot find it. It seems to me all the stars are there, but they are more cluttered and shine a little less bright. Perhaps they are worn down from the heat of the day in Costa Rica. Whatever the reason the dipper continues to hide from me, as if it is angry that I left it behind and it is only available to,those who brave the conditions of Alaska, only they can enjoy the steady seven stars of gold.
Think I’m crazy? Well I got up this morning at 3:00 am to load my car up for a trip to Alaska, and as I finished I looked up slightly to the north there it was for the first time,the Big Dipper. It wasn’t as bright or majestic, but it was there, upside down and backwards, giving me just enough to let me know it approved of my pending trip. But also letting me know that as an Alaskan living in Costa Rica my world would be upside down and backwards, like it has been. But I know if I can just catch a glimpse of the dipper every so often, like a favorite wall hanging, it will help ground me in the place we now call home, and I won’t have to worry about my nose freezing shut.