A journey through time
29.05.2012 15 °C
About a thousand years ago my ancestors, the mighty Vikings, navigated across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of the stars and discovered North America, some 500 years before Columbus. They called it Vinland.
The early farming communities that seemed to appear out of nowhere sometime in our pre-history all used the changing of the constellations as a guide to know when to sow, and when to harvest.
Countless ancient structures are aligned with constellations and important stars. Some ancient cultures knew what the stars really were: other suns, just like our own. How did they know that? Beats me. For all I know they could've had visitors from intergalactic civilizations.
Yet today we hardly ever take notice of the stars, if you're lucky enough to even be able to see them at all. Their faint, distant light stands no match for our city lights. Even far out in the suburbs and smaller towns you only see a tiny fraction of the magnificent skies we have above us.
Now that I'm out here in the bush the skies are clear of all light-pollution. The stars and the moon light my way at night when I walk from the house to my caravan, some 20 meters away. Well, that and my flashlight. This is the 21st century after all.
So I've found myself rediscovering the mesmerising effect they have on your mind. You can easily get a stiff neck from looking up into the skies for too long, losing yourself in thoughts about the universe, looking for UFOs that never seem to want to show themselves to you, as if you're not worthy (or crazy) enough to see them.
However, this night-time sky is different to the one I'm used to. I can't find the Pole star, I can't see the Big Dipper and a whole bunch of other ones. Instead I find myself looking at the Southern Cross as the only constellation I've identified. Though I'm no astronomer and need to have them all pointed out to me to see. I have been able to catch both Mars and Venus as they make their way across the black canvas. The Aboriginals have at least two of their own constellations: the Emu and the Serpent; good and evil respectively. Their fighting was, according to Aboriginal lore, responsible for the shaping of the land with mountains, lakes and rivers; all results of their struggle.
These things and more cross my mind now that I find myself in the tranquility of the country-side, out of the stress under the constant light of the cities. Among other benefits I've noticed: my sleep is a lot better and I wake up more rested than usual, even after less sleep at times.
Wildlife is abundant with kangaroos hopping around, drinking from the irrigation damm a few hundred meters from the house. There are some 30-60 species of birds nesting in the bush around the property, depending on the season. There are spiders everywhere, like my pet Huntsman Olle. The other day I saw a Praying Mantis just outside the back. Sadly my real camera is broken at the moment, but I snapped a shot with the camera on my mobile phone and that will have to do.
I can only say I'm glad I'm not a male Praying Mantis as the female bites it's head off while mating. The headless body is still capable of completing this act of necrophilia. They're a strange lot these animals and bugs...
Beppe Karlsson, Bromley