Beneath a Canopy of Light

I absolutely adore living in the city. Honestly, I do not believe that I could thrive in any rural town. I crave the sounds of traffic and the sense that opportunity can be found around every corner. Though I may not get my wish, I hope to always live in a big city. However, there is one thing that I love that cannot be found in the city: stars. Sure, on a clear night you can see a smattering of stars across the city sky, but it is nothing compared to the night sky found away from the city.

Many of the national parks we visited this summer are far away from large cities and have greeted us with night skies filled with bright clear stars. On our most recent trip to the San Juan Island National Historical Park, the night sky was illuminated with stars. You could see all of Orion rather than just his belt, the little and Big Dipper, the North Star, the Milky Way and a million other stars and galaxies. When in the city, it is easy to ignore the night sky and forget the stars, but sitting in our campsite in the national park, the stars demanded attention.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am very involved in theater and I am a huge fan of Shakespeare. Keeping this in mind, I naturally had a Shakespeare quote ready from Romeo and Juliet: “And, when he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of Heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun.” When I recited this quote to the rest of the In My Backyard team, they were unsurprisingly startled by my random Shakespearean outburst, but I feel like they got it anyway. Looking up at all the stars it is clear to see how they have acted as the muse for various artists both old and new; Vincent Van Gogh had his Starry Starry Night painting and Coldplay has their song “Sky Full of Stars.”

Our last night adventure in the San Juan Island National Historical Park seemed to conclude with alternating In My Backyard members singing another Coldplay song titled Yellow because it begins with the lyrics, “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you…” As I lay in our see-through tent gazing up at the magnificent stars, I realized that I did not want to fall asleep for if I did, I would be deprived of the sight of stars. Alas, as my eyelids began to droop and sleep began to claim me, I said a silent goodbye to the stars that would be soon hidden when I return home to the city and all its light.

Claire Parchem, SCA intern

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