All things proceed out of the same spirit, and all things conspire with it… The perception of this law of laws awakens in the mind a sentiment… which makes our highest happiness. Wonderful is it’s power to charm and command. It is a mountain air. It is the embalmer of the world. It is myrrh and storax, and chlorine and rosemary. It makes the sky and hills sublime, and the silent song of the stars is it… Thought may work cold and intransitive in things, and find no end or unity; but the dawn of the sentiment of virtue on the heart, gives and is the assurance that Law is sovereign over all natures; and the worlds, time, space, eternity, do seem to break out into joy… It is the beatitude of man. It makes him illimitable.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays
Venus, that bright, sexy bitch. For damned-near 20 years I watched her play either Morning and Evening Star, sliding down the welkin while peeking through the serrated silhouette of old Norfolk pines in my parents’ yard. Last year, our beloved trees had to be cut down to save the family home’s foundation, but just for a moment…
“Man, I thought I was tripping!” I told Mom. I was gazing at Venus and thought I could still see the trees–but it was just a mirage, the reflection of the A-frame’s apex.
See, though Dad’s on the cusp of his 61st birthday–and just yesterday sprained his ankle (twice)–he still spent Sunday perched two stories high atop a ladder, squeegeeing the windows ’til they shine like mirrors. (And also, among other unimaginable errands, decided to deftly scale 30 feet up into the backyard avocado tree’s canopy, wielding a blade and bombing a bucket’s worth of baby head-sized fruit into my waiting palms.)
That’s how most moments are spent at the Yagi home: with hardy housework. The usual vacuuming and scrubbing aside, there’s also coconuts to machete for milk and cobra, gandule beans to pick and boil, wood to chop and meat to smoke.
The work’s joyful and almost effortless, now that my brother Jayson and I are grown-ups; and now that we’re rarely all together. These days, I find it almost hard to remember my teen years when our nuclear family–and all our insular idiosyncracies–felt utterly smothering. Then, all I wanted to do was adventure away. Now, after leaving for what’s far and wide–and when working for The Man instead of Dad–coming home is a blissful albeit infrequent escape.
Indeed, there’s no place like home–and whenever I feel that adage with the weight and ache of Dorothy, I know it’s time to rally race up Omaopio Road (’cause the Haleakala Highway alternative is charmless) to visit my folks in Kula.
It’s been too long since my last visit, and the eager afternoon washed away all too quickly. But in the deepening dark (though Dad, of course, hasn’t stopped moving), Mom and I settled by the fireplace to look out the windows at the inky night. The smoke curling up the flume triggered my bad habit, so we soon found ourselves outside, shivering in the Kula cold while I insisted on dying a little faster and harder.
Clean as the windows are, they were still no match for the sky unobstructed. More than just to admire Venus, spring will be a great time to observe all but Uranus and Neptune with the naked eye. Next month, we have a Jupiter-Venus conjunction, but right now, if Venus is perennially queen, Mars is king.
“Martian opposition” means the Earth’s passing between the sun and our solar system’s fourth “ruddy world,” as described by EarthSky; the closest–and brightest–the planet will be in two years’ time. At around midnight, he’s been a luminescent coral orb high in the sky, and it’s a wonder I haven’t broken my neck trying to appreciate the depth of the dome overhead.
So as mom and I sit and talk story of the pleasures of home and heart–of both here at the house and here on Earth–I cannot help but look up and sporadically gasp, awed.
Oh! That there are upwards of 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way and 125-500 billion galaxies like it! And that, according to a study published last month in the weekly science journal Nature, scientists have concluded that “stars are orbited by planets as a rule, rather than the exception.” And to think that our precious little four billion-year-old planet is so far away from all this celestial stuff that to travel to the nearest Earth-like orb, as fast as currently humanly possible, it’d take 350,000 years.
And further, to think that we once thought the heavens themselves circled a flat, 6,000-year-old Earth. And further still, to wonder what the future–like an adult reflecting on her on punkish youth–might come think about our current truths.
The good news is every amazing thing discovered about the universe serves to solidify the wonderment of our terrestrial home; meanwhile reminding us of the hard work required to keep it.