My Regular Pagan Holiday Greeting
On Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross Quarter Holidays
Imbolc, the Celtic pagan holiday on February 1, and the time of the Lunar New Year really mark the advent of spring in California, at least here in Sonoma County. The daffodils I planted in November are in full bloom. Just before a series of atmospheric rivers dumped 18 inches of rain (about three times the normal rainfall), we installed a water catchment system with swales in the front yard and three 1000-gallon tanks. Our system worked well to save water for future irrigation and to direct it away from the house. The January rains filled creeks to overflowing and greened the grass, although storms also felled many trees and resulted in flooding and some deaths.
The earth is turning and the light is returning, but it’s still dark at 5 AM when I go out to look for the comet called ZTF. I haven’t been able to see it yet, but skies have been clear lately and I keep trying. The comet can be found in the north sky between the north star and the big dipper. It will be closest to Earth on February 2. It’s green! Perhaps a sign?
A bit of angst seizes me whenever I look up for the comet. I can’t help thinking about the movie Don’t Look Up. We watched it again recently and it was just as hilarious and sobering as the first time. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you must! It’s a metaphor for climate change that hits us over the head hard, but lately I’m thinking nothing can be too subtle for us humans. (My friends, I’m not talking about you. I know you are aware and doing all you can do to avert the predicted climate disaster).
Every day, as the green comet comes closer, I’ve looked for it with binoculars, but it keeps eluding me. So we bought a telescope. I found two telescopes in town–an inexpensive one at a sporting goods store and a more expensive one at a camera store. I’m new at this so figured the cheaper one would be just fine. We brought it home and tried to figure out how to use it. It seemed so simple. We followed the spare directions but failed to make it work. We tried and tried. The manufacturer didn’t have decent assembly instructions. So we looked online for videos and found one in Spanish, but as neither of us understands the language (a failing I’ve always regretted) we didn’t really get it. Plus, to set the focus each time you have to bend over in a way that my old neck will no longer allow.
So I boxed the telescope back up and returned it. Then we bought the expensive one. This thoroughly modern telescope was made in France and must be connected to wifi and a computerized device. Directions say we can have as many as ten devices so we imagine we can host star watching parties where all the guests could see the comet, or the moon, or planets on their ipads. That’s the fantasy anyway. Still is.
We were directed to connect to the manufacturer’s wifi network, which didn’t come up on my phone. Later I was able to log on but couldn’t figure out the next step. Instructions are not terribly helpful. Are they translated? Or are we just too old to understand? Normally this tech breakdown would have me throwing up my hands in despair. But my wife Holly is kind of a tech wizard (witch?) and I depend on her to solve these problems. She couldn’t, but she is sanguine and so I haven’t lost hope that we can figure it out. Maybe I’ll see the green comet yet. It won’t be back around again for 50,000 years. I just can’t wait that long.
Aside from my unfulfilled obsession with the comet, life is good for us in Santa Rosa. We are thankful for our good fortune, but at the same time we are anguished by the growing wealth gap and the failure of our society to care for those more needy than we. The capitalist system values nothing as much as making (or stealing) money, assigning those with other priorities to the losers column.
My angst is multiplied by the recent explosion of gun violence especially in the past couple of weeks. California, with the strictest gun laws in the country, experienced some of the worst violence. We lesbian feminists laugh (and cry) about testosterone poisoning, and I do think that simple theory has some truth to it. Systems breakdowns and our society’s failure to prioritize the common good contribute. Gun violence has worsened with the proliferation of guns, but it has been going on for a long time. January 30 is the 75thanniversary of the shooting death of Mahatma Ghandi.
I support taking away the guns. That’s what Cheryl Wheeler sang. Her song, If It Were Up to Me, was written after the Stockton school shooting in 1989 and it still applies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op7agdIFOGY
If you don’t know Cheryl Wheeler, check her out. She writes funny songs too. My Cat’s Birthday comes to mind. We lesbians do love our cats.
Sending wishes for peace in the new year.
Love, Molly and Holly (MoHo)