Colin wakes us gently from our sleep. Through our grogginess he tells us there is something outside to see. As we shift from unconsciousness to consciousness, shed vaguely remembered dreams, regain our sense of place and time, we see it is in the wee hours. He asks us to put on something warm and come outside.
Outside it is a moonless, starless night. It is misting. We cannot see it, we feel it. He takes my hand, I take Marketa’s hand, he guides us through the darkness. Our eyes are slow to adjust, there are no sources of light to illuminate even the ground before us. It is difficult to walk, our sense of balance is askew without familiar landmarks.
Colin leads us to what we know to be a hillside not far from the house, free of trees. He finds his way by intuition, by the slope of the hill, by something within, I don't know.
We stop. The cool air and mist settles on us. We hear sounds which we are slow to identify. They are the sounds of the vineyard—insects mostly, perhaps a hint of breeze through the oaks we have passed, perhaps a hint of a few distant cars, a passing aircraft above—no telltale light penetrates the mist.
Suddenly, an intense beam of light spikes the darkness. Colin has turned on a small, powerful flashlight, and what we see defies description. There are no adjectives grand enough, but I will try.
We are seeing the universe on a micro-scale. Within the cone of light, light Colin has pointed skyward, we see mist—mist composed of droplets so tiny as to be hints of pinpricks, though the weight of the word "droplets" far exceeds the delicacy of what we see, in numbers that defy imagination.
Each droplet, though clear, appears white, reflecting and refracting the beam; each a sprite, each alone, each a part of the whole—white droplets against a backdrop of black. No two droplets touch, each repelled by their electrons; yet each in close proximity to its neighbors, separated by the merest of distance—a three-dimensional flowing harmony of minute points of light. Within the beam there is uniformity, within the uniformity there is a subtle coming together and separating. Is this how stars, then galaxies, formed? What forces are at play—this is physics. This is grace.
I cannot fathom the quantity of what I am seeing. Mist gently passes from darkness through the beam and on again. I think this is nothing less than a hint of the cosmos. Within the beam we are seeing what—a million passing droplets, a quintillion? How can one know? And what of the area outside the beam? How far does the mist extent—beyond the vineyard, beyond surrounding vineyards, to the hills golden in daylight, now invisible, to the ocean and beyond. How many? A droplet for every star in the universe?
Droplets pass through the beam with something that seems, at first, random. As we begin to digest what are seeing we begin to see orderliness in the flow. The gentle breeze is carrying the entire cloud of mist slightly west to east, though each droplet seems to almost stand still, their movement so slight.
Every few seconds we see what seems to be a puff of smoke rising from the flashlight. As the mist passes over the beam those droplets near the lens begin to separate themselves from the mass. The heat of the beam is causing a disturbance. Individual droplets settle on the lens until the lens is damp with mist. The lens is hot. The heat turns the mist to vapor, then—puff, a cloud of steam rises, unsettling the superstructure of the mist. Every few seconds—puff—puff—puff. As well as puffs, we see our own exhaled breath in the beam, our own self-created mist.
The beam begins to heat a larger area. The mist begins to flow slightly erratically; the predictable flow, west to east, changes, begins to swirl. The beam has created turbulence. Our presence has altered the cosmos. One way or another, random or otherwise, mist flows through the light, each droplet caught momentarily to be replaced by another droplet, another quintillion droplets, an infinity of droplets, or nearly so. Beyond the beam the blackness is complete.
This is what we see. We are chilled, and I am out of words.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2018-09-24 at 00:06
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