Stargazing before Sunrise

Leafless shrubs and thorny canes make indistinct shadows in the light of the waning moon.  The pre-dawn darkness blankets the earth, though the air is warm and humid, a distinct shift from yesterday’s biting cold.  My feet find the familiar path, climbing towards the small figure at the top of the hill, a dark silhouette in the pale glow of a lantern.  The battery-operated lamp gives off a pale yellow glow and it hangs loosely by his side as he slips his other hand in mine.  He leans sleepily against me, gazing up at the stars.  “Which one is Orion, again?  And the big spoon?”  

Our just-waking eyes are not sharp enough to distinguish known constellations, so we simply soak in the beauty of the moment.  The moon, half shrouded in clouds, seems to have pulled the covers over her head.  We give one last wistful thought to the warm beds we have left behind, then continue up the hill.  

Dragonfly boy is far ahead today, wielding a small flashlight.  He waits at the trailhead and we three enter the forest together, steps careful and subdued in the darkness.  The descent is steep and the many branches, sticks and stones become climbing structures, collectors items and (of course) swords.  Pixie is swinging on a favorite vine, when Dragonfly boy calls out.  We run to him, crouched by the base of a tree, shining a light through the split trunk.

“Look!” His voice is breathless and quiet.  A small toad crouches in the ring of light cast by his flashlight.  “I think spring is starting!”

The creek is clear.  Ice and snow are but a memory.  Pixie notices how high the water has risen.  We sit on rocks by the shore to drink our breakfast smoothies and listen to the moving water.  In the warm air, the boys are playful and don’t sit for long.  Off they run, jumping from rock to rock, skipping stones on the surface of the water.  While they play, pale fingers of light stretch over the water, bringing the rocks, the trees and the ravine to life.  The birds begin to sing all around us.  

We notice that the steep hike back up the hill is getting easier.  Our lanterns are switched off and the boys are energetic, eagerly anticipating their day at school.  Dragonfly boy races the dog down the twisting dirt path towards the house.  Pixie stops to take in the view.  “It really is a beautiful sight,” he says with a sigh, “I’m glad we moved here.”

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