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Light on a Tilted Planet: phonetograpalooza 12/3/22


Grateful today, to be past the N-month, when our bits of evening daylight collapse into late-afternoon sunset. My mood collapses along with the light. Just to get to the woods, or around the neighborhood (missing many sidewalks) feels essential, and overnight - that chance dies.


For some reason, December doesn't feel as cruel; you can at least smell the idea of snow -- a brightness all its own -- rather than November's windy chill and raw, pelting rain, and dark drive home.


Today I wondered if other planets rotate on tilted axes, with their own seasonalities and shifting reach from our big star.


All but Mercury do. And improbably, Uranus' tilt is 98 degrees,* so its north pole is almost on its equator. I'm trying to imagine what "mid-day" in "summer" there might look like, in terms of light. (Our tilt is 23.5 degrees, if you're a few years beyond Earth Science class, like me.) So, we all have seasons and changing light and dark as we revolve. Except Mercury. So sorry, Mercury.


I'm grateful to live in an era when my wounded, and wounding, species knows things like that about our planetary cousins, if we happen to wonder.


Today is the day my father was born. And as improbably as Uranus' tilt, he lived almost 91 years, in spite of his many habits or lack of habits. He died on November 7th a few years ago; the first day of the latest fall-back of light to Standard Time. While looking for another pic on my phone, I came upon a sunset on the Gulf of Mexico, which my red shoe photo-bombed. I was standing with my niece Emily in the surf, with our shoes off, just after leaving my father's hospice house for the last time.


Sunrise, sunset is about as clear and time-worn as any understanding of a lifetime, maybe since life first sparked on Earth.


As human animals, parts of us have been dying since some racing sperm dove into the surface of an egg-planet. Genetic history from thousands of years - in the form of all the other sperm -- grieved its sudden loss. Soon, our simple-celled zygotic divisions also die, to the differentiation of systems and parts and asymmetries. At some point, we grieve our watery, circumscribed world, and join the chaos of a whole planet's surface, its atmosphere, its wind and light and gloom and warmth. Lose teeth, grow teeth, Lots of lose, grow, lose, grow.


Learn, bleed, bruise, lose. Keep living, and grieving. Grow. Venture. Enlighten. Risk. Grow heavy from living. Lose strength, even sensibility. Ease on down in a spread of color, or snap off into dark in a moment, from some dense cloud.


So, some sunrises and sunsets for you, from the past decade or so. As good as anything, I guess, Dad. Peace to your soul, and thank you for living so improbably long. You taught me much more than I ever thought was probable -- when I wasn't so long in the tooth as now.


L to R: Last night - my sister Lori's xmas tree now in my own entryway; Parker Ave, in my neighborhood; thoughtful seagull in Santa Monica a few years back


L to R: coming out of the woods nearby; coming out of the Metro nearby; riding to dinner in Oakland, CA in October


L to R: mid-day, nearing Total Eclipse with my brother Mark in KY; standing on my front porch last week; at a red light driving home from work through Chevy Chase


L to R: at a conference in Seattle; after a hurricane in Pto Vallarta; along Pine Lake near home


L to R: behind my brother Bill on his patio after Page's parties, Nov. 2013; above Michigan flying beside a Supermoon -- okay, past sunset, but the pic is too fun; at a Nationals game with union folks


In traffic, side-mirror view, driving home through Kensington, MD My Dad would have liked this one, I think, even without any ocean around.


Thanks, friends, for looking up with me, on this not-nearly-as-tilted-as-Uranus world, and grateful for that too,

xxoo,

Muffin


*https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/feb-15-agriculture-moving-north-arrokoth-s-secrets-the-microbiome-for-flight-and-more-1.5463847/do-other-planets-in-the-solar-system-have-orbital-tilt-and-seasons-1.5463851

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