Winter is my favorite time to stargaze. The stars feel closer, even if they are bright, icy pinpricks impossibly far away. When I was small, my dad would take us out on winter nights to look for constellations and tell us stories. My favorite was one about a time when all the animals of the earth were fighting. Finally the din and noise from their disagreements drove the Great Spirit to drastic measures, and he pulled a heavy blanket down over the sun. The animals were quieted at once - they had never known the dark and were afraid. They knew the sun was somewhere behind the dark, but no one was brave enough to go and find him. Finally, the hummingbird, small as it was, flew up into the murky black, and used its beak to make tiny hole after tiny hole in the blanket, letting in dim bits of light. The Great Spirit was so charmed that he decided half the day would be given over to the little bird's work, and that's why, my dad claimed, we have stars in the sky.
These days he says he told this story to try and get me and my brother and sister to stop arguing with each other, in a quest for a little peace at home, and that it wasn't really about explaining the stars at all. Very crafty, right? I don't know how successful it was on that score, but I do still love to look at the stars and think of how they got there.
Labels: imaginary outfit