In the summer, we have to stay up until nearly midnight to see a starry sky, and for much of the part of the year I spend working, I need to be out of the house, and even arriving at work, well before first light. In the dark, our accustomed, visually assured place in the world uncertain, we are very small and powerless. Stepping out of my cosy, controlled, electrically lit domesticity, my typically uselessly female rod cells ill-equipped for dealing with headlights, listening to the owls or the wind or the rain, looking up at the stars or the glow before dawn, I have developed a peculiar kind of prayer of petition, if you will, which is not a request, but simply to ask Einstein's question: is the universe friendly?
I don't know quite why, or how, I ask it. It isn't a grovelling plea - be nice to me, don't let bad things happen. I know there is no reason why I deserve comfort and freedom from harm more than anyone else, and I doubt the existence of, or wouldn't want to know, a teleological God who listens and attends to me and my needs while deciding not to bother with Darfur at the moment. Perhaps I ask in the spirit that a comfortable but fearful slave asks a capricious master, in the third person: I trust Sir is feeling well this morning? He doesn't quite know if he'll get a smile or a kick; the master has been pretty good to him so far, but one never knows, he can turn, and he's seen how he's treated some of the others...
It may just be a ritual formula of words which steadies and reassures simply by its repetition, I don't know. I receive, of course, no answer. Yet, insignificant as I am against the dark and the stars and the sunrise, something in me believes I have the right to ask.
My slightly later start on Saturday, to be in Lamballe at 9, meant I was at the fishing pond before the sun was up, to give Mol her walk first.
Everything was visible but nearly monochrome,
and the mist and the water were doing their smoke and mirrors trick.
The frost was hard and stingingly crisp,
etching a world of thresholds,
and as we made our tour of the pond, colour began to return to the world.
I am unable to know of the friendliness or otherwise of the universe. In this pinpoint of it, I know of its beauty. That will have to do.