7:30 am here in Olympia and the sky is just beginning to lighten. Civil twilight has begun and the sun will soon rise for its eight and a half hour run from east to west. And then it will be dark again for the next fifteen and a half hours.
Something about the dark here feels profound to me, that it's a dark unlike any I've experienced before. That feeling is pretty amazing since I spent five years looking at the deep black skies above the Navajo Nation when I lived in Window Rock, Arizona. I find it hard to imagine any dark could compete with that dark and certainly a not in a city with all of its light.
And yet the dark in Olympia does compete. It's a different kind of dark but no less encompassing. In Window Rock I could look into that deep sky and feel myself a part of the universe, the vast land on which I stood was encompassed by an even more vast cosmos. In Olympia the dark seems to descend on the entire community, holding us all in its grip. Either way I see myself as part and parcel of the natural cycles that govern this planet and the universe. I am at once liberated, humbled and aware.
If this morning's Olympia sky was as clear as those Window Rock skies, I would have seen Saturn and Mars high in the west and south. Yesterday I might have seen the last slim waning crescent of the moon as it slips toward New. The evening sky here features Jupiter very bright and well up in the east and an even brighter Venus perched above the western horizon. Trees are all bare now so those moments of clear sky are wonderfully visible this time of year.
Maybe it's the amateur astronomer in me that attracts me to the dark. Or my preference for for staying out of sight. Whatever the attraction, these long nights are always welcome on my calendar.