Constellation Cetus and a shooting star

Farallon Islands from Point Reyes on a winter day.  Copyright Robin L. Chandler.
Farallon Islands from Point Reyes on a winter day. Copyright 2012 Robin L. Chandler.

It’s late afternoon on the last day of December 2012 and the annual Pacific migration of the gray whales from the Arctic to Baja is underway. On a spectacular day the air is clear and crisp, the sea is still – little movement on the waves, a cold rainy front moves south towards Southern California just skirting the Bay Area. Miles-at-sea, there is a flash of lightening. From the cliffs at Point Reyes National Seashore we look south towards the Farallon Islands. Wave gazes out at the infinite horizon and happily finds a small pod of whales. One fluke breaks the plane, and a bushy kind of heart shaped blow emerges nearby. “A whale spout is like catching a glimpse of a shooting star,” she says.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s 1943 novel The Little Prince comes to mind:

“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travellers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all the stars are silent. You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them–”

Footnote: this afternoon Public Radio International interviewed the iconic American folksinger Pete Seeger about the beloved Chilean poet and musican Victor Jara who wrote and sang songs about love, peace and social justice. Jara was brutally murdered during the 1973 Chilean military coup that ousted President Salvador Allende and finally last week a Chilean judge issued an international arrest warrant for his killers and their accomplices.  Pete sang the words “Victor Jara lived like a shooting star, a shooting star.”

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