Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske; Naturalist

Call of the Star Wheel

There is nothing more mesmerizing than the night sky. Many moons ago I teamed up with friend to study this massive unexplored frontier. As the night deepened, we’d trek out to the field next to his house, spread a blanket on the ground, set out our star books and charts (this was pre-mobile phone apps), cover our flashlight with red cellophane, lay back and try to solve the riddles riding across the sky.

We were both enchanted with the mystery of the night sky. We checked our charts for the constellation that should be over our heads at the moment and searched the vastness to find it. Or we’d see a pattern of stars that looked like it could be something, then scan the books trying to identify it. We had the high enthusiasm of true amateurs. As we connected with a constellation, correctly identifying it, we felt as if we decoded one of the secrets of the universe. It was a very special time of discovery and so much fun.
We attempted to discover every zodiac sign along the ecliptic (the path in the sky that the moon, planets and zodiac follow). We searched out Taurus, Gemini, Leo, Scorpio, Sagittarius. In the huge sky, we found Draco the Dragon, Cygnus the Swan, The Great
Bear (aka Big Dipper), Cassiopeia, Pegasus and a host of other constellations.

One summer we purchased a telescope. We focused in on the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and the surface of the Moon. Don’t pass up a chance to see the Full Moon through a telescope. The Moon is alive with sparkling craters, sunlit plains, radiating ridges and secret shadows. She twinkles back at you through the lens as though she knows you’re looking.

The night sky is one of our greatest overlooked treasures. It fosters inspiration and imagination. We have worshipped, wondered, and even ventured out into space in an attempt to understand its magical essence. Each of us has the power to appreciate our place in the Universe, simply by looking up. Let your mind wander in the awe of possibility and the mystery of the unknown.

Since the dawn of time, we’ve looked up at the stars and pondered our place among them. Gazing at the night sky, we realize how insignificant our problems are. Perhaps we open up to the potential to be more compassionate; to understand that we all share this planet for this brief moment.

When I’m watching the stars, the world stills. Stress falls away and I lose track of time. I feel an incredible connectivity to everything. My thoughts clear and my relationship with Nature seems to magnify.

If you want to learn more, download a star-viewing app such as Night Sky or Sky View. I still like to refer to star charts and identification guides. Surrounded by city lights, you can still identify major constellations and be aware of the phase of the moon and visible planets. Out in the country away from streetlights, surveying the sweeping Milky Way is testament to the limitless potential of our galaxy and the human spirit.

I know a bit of the puzzling maze that wheels over our heads each and every night. The ones I can call by name feel like allies that will guide me when I have need. They are an eternal constant… the same lights my distant ancestors turned to for guidance. Alone under the vastness of the clear night sky, if you listen, you can hear the song of the stars.
My friend and I heard it. We still carry it in our hearts.

See Pat’s Wild Wreaths, Wheels, and Twig Art crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com and at Green Door Art Gallery. Check out her Field Journal for her musings on the Human-Nature relationship.