It was the darkest night in this lifetime so far. That’s what the science said and I believed when I could not find the moon. By rare arrangement of the heavens, it was also the solstice.
We sauntered darkly on a high woodland ridge under the Pleiades sisters. These astral nymphs were not bright enough to light our feet, despite their pedigree of Atlas and Bright Sky, old deities for whom most of us are now atheistic. Atlas was sentenced by Zeus to hold up the sky, but at least he gave his daughters a place to live and a job. (He has help from herculean bur oaks at every solstice, the heaviest night of the year.) His girls guide travelers who pass sundown.
That’s what the mythology said and I believed when I saw the chart with Orion and the dippers with the sisters, and maybe that bear, unrolled above on the inky night. Indigo buntings used it when they left 6 weeks ago. Sometimes we receive replacement buntings the color of prairie snow. Migrating from the arctic, snow buntings refuse help from the starry maidens and blindly follow hidden meridians. I hope they come this year.