Thursday, February 09, 2006

saturn in opposition

Saturn, the yellow planet, was in opposition on 27th Jan. Actually there's no desperate hurry to go and see it - it's available for evening viewing until the end of June. And next year, it'll be much the same. Since it takes thirty Earth years to complete one Saturn year, it's almost like a fixed star and is easy to find a second time - unless you don't bother to look for about five years.

Saturn obliterates the rather faint constellation of Cancer at the moment - to the naked eye, I mean (it's more or less over the Beehive cluster M44).

On a Saturday morning I don't have to get up. Something wakes me and I look at my watch, 0750. I think about the extra things I would like to do if I get up at 0750. I can't decide, really. I'm still tired but I like the morning light, I'd have time to do things unhurriedly, and I would feel relaxed, maybe even go outside in the frosty yard. As I imagine this I doze, and I'm still thinking that I can't decide and yes I will definitely get up at 0750, yes I think I really will, when I suddenly realize that the light's changed and it's quarter to ten.

Sisters, daughters, workmates, friends, parents: everyone is the age, I imagine, that I last heard they were. So G who I thought was 23 is 25 in March. C who I supposed was 20 is actually 22 - or no, when did I find that out? Maybe she's even 23! Fretfully, I begin to dislike this way of saying someone's age. If someone says "I'm 23" it means "I'm at least 23 when I said it". Why doesn't it mean something you can pin down?

They're all running together, and the course goes out of sight for a while, they're all running again, they're my time and they're buoyantly trampling the years together, and then the years come down in an ambush, the years are trampling them and it never stops.

When I was a child I was filled with excitement at the thought that I would actually be alive in the year 2000! We wouldn't know what to do with ourselves, the whole world would be changed and perhaps the Queen or the United Nations would announce: OK, that's it, we'll party and change all the laws. But when I worked out how old I would be, forty-two, it seemed so old that I thought I'd better just enjoy myself in my own century because there wouldn't be much left for me after that.

But now in 2006 when I look at my photos from the twentieth century they seem small and dull, and I don't see most of those people any more and it has become an unimportant time, personally. I run across a second-hand book published in 1997 and it doesn't really thrill me because the gloss has faded. Yes, this was going on too, I admit, but I was involved in something else at the time, and now it seems a bit late to talk.

Yet I'm kind of the same, if I look very carefully away from everything that isn't the same, if I don't count it or I make it so it doesn't count, which is what we do.

I forgot to turn the page on my desk calendar. So that's it for January, it's already gone? New Year, I remember, but it's no longer new. I'm missing it by the day. The brilliant green of cow parsley shoots, the white snowdrop glades, the raven flying unk, unk, unk, overhead; and the moon already gibbous again; a scrabbling in the eaves, have they already got babies? I'm recycling pitchforkfuls of unread magazines. I meant to text you, sorry I forgot the homework again, I wanted so to ask how you were, I meant that we'd have a walk this winter, I should be down to see you soon, I moved the flights, I'd have liked to see him... I should have... I think these words every day, and neglect to water the palms again. And now I'm late.

Go! Go! Go!

Funny thing is, Saturn's day is only ten hours. That's real spinning, that is. On Saturn they have winds of over 1,000 kph.


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