Last Night I Was Humbled by The Stars in my Neck of The Woods
Settling my Troubled Heart Over Climate Change, Turtle Hatchlings, and the Ocean
“Not just beautiful–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.” -Haruki Murakami
Last night we went for a walk a lot later than usual.
It has been unusually hot.
We are in a drought where I am living in Australia and we have had temperatures at times getting up near 40 or 50-degree Celsius (104–122 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country this summer.
It has been extensively reported in media all over the country, the death of hundreds of thousands of fish in our rivers, thousands of birds dropping dead out of the sky, and tens of thousands of bats dying (one-third of a population of 75,000).
This is not taking into account all the land mammals who have perished due to the extreme heat. Over 2,500 camels were culled due to dying of thirst in the outback as well as hundreds of wild horses.
Adelaide in South Australia, home to over 1.3 million people, hit a record 46.6 degrees Celcius one day in January (116 degrees Fahrenheit).
Where I live we are hovering between 30–35 degrees (86–95 Fahrenheit) but when there is little wind, and it is still, with humidity between 80–90% it is like being in a sauna with no way to cool down.
At night the temperature drops to about 21 degrees (70-degree Fahrenheit), so it is still hot.
Even the water from the tap is warm. The cold water is never cold.
The only way to get cold if you do not have air conditioning is to put a wet towel in the freezer and then get it out frozen and drape it over your head and sit in front of a fan.
Last night I cooked dinner, and I didn’t start it until it was nearly 6 pm. So, by the time we ate it was near 7.15pm.
Afterward, I got the dog lead, and we decided to take our little dog, Lily for a walk to “the rock” which is about half a kilometer away and takes about 10 minutes to reach.
It is the most refreshing time of the day, and our dog adores a walk.
The high humidity at the moment can turn any item of clothing wet (like you have been caught in a shower of rain) within 10 minutes of walking, so we didn’t want to go too far.
There was a crescent moon, and the sky was unusually dark.
It was harder than usual to navigate our way to the ocean walkway.
We do not have street lights around where we live (50m from the Pacific Ocean) as the endangered loggerhead turtle eggs are currently hatching.
They hatch at night between January and March every year. They are hatching every night (sometimes just after dawn as did these turtles in the photos below a couple of weeks ago).
The giant female loggerhead turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs between November and January, each year.
Hatching turtles are disorientated by unnatural light, so all lights in houses, along streets and in the area are dimmed or low during these months.
All street lights (except on corners) are non-existent where I live.
If the baby turtles are disorientated, they won’t be able to find their way to the ocean and instead will head in other directions where they will get lost and die.
Turtles need to be able to find their own way unimpeded down to the ocean to set their internal navigation, as the females return to the same beach to lay their eggs over two decades later.
Scientists think that they somehow orient themselves using the earth’s magnetic field to be able to return to the same beach they hatched on.
These huge turtles weighing up to 113 kilograms (250 pounds) navigate thousands of miles of ocean and undertake an incredible journey in their lifetime.
It is estimated that with the conservation efforts undertaken over ninety percent of eggs hatch, but there is only a 1% survival rate to sexual maturity. They face multitudes of predators including foxes, dingoes, wild dogs, crabs, seagulls, and all different sorts of fish.
Once they enter the water, they go into a swimming frenzy for a few days. It is believed this is to help them get away from being near the shoreline and get further out to sea, where there are fewer predators.
Then there is about a decade known as the “lost years” where nobody seems to know where they go.
They return to feed nearer coastal waters when they are juveniles.
And then about 25 years after they first hatched, the females navigate their way around the world to return to the beach they were born to lay their own eggs.
So, my husband and I started out walking in the dark last night, with our dog.
On the way to the oceanfront, we walk down through a column of Norfolk Pine trees that are massive. They grow each side of the road and tower high. Many birds nest and roost in them and in the day the noise of the birds is heard continuously.
At night there is absolute silence.
The black silhouettes of the pines all in a row reached up to the sky and looked like they were about to hit the stars.
Standing below them they appeared enormous. They appeared much more prominent than in the daytime.
I think the fact the darkness of the night obliterated evidence of all other bushes, life, houses, and only the silhouettes of the trees were seen, emphasized their size and they appeared quite formidable.
The sky was so full of stars it would be hard to put a pinprick between them. The milky way and the southern sky is so beautiful here at night. You gaze up and get lost within it.
The fir trees struck me last night as sentries standing guard and keeping watch.
Silent dark watchers.
The air was so warm, and you could taste the salty smell of the wind on the air.
The sound of the sea was exactly as recorded below.
Otherwise, it was silent.
Only the sounds of nature could be heard. It was serene.
“The earth has music for those who listen.” ― George Santayana
The sound of the sea, the dark silhouettes of the trees, the blanket of millions of stars along with the warm air and the absence of any human or other sounds made us both feel like we were the only life in existence.
It was like the dark, silent towering trees stood guard as witnesses to everything.
The extreme weather.
The hatchlings run to the ocean.
My husband and I and our little dog.
The near-impossible odds of surviving for the baby turtle.
The near impossible situation of reversing climate change and undoing the extreme damage happening to our planet.
The fight and will to survive when so many odds are stacked against those of us who are aware and want to do something.
The trees were the link between the ocean, the land, the stars and us. They felt like the silent witnesses last night. As strange and weird as that may sound.
It somehow felt comforting.
There were no answers. No solutions.
But I felt an acute awareness that it was all being observed.
It was known.
We all were accounted for.
The life and death struggle was noted.
And even with all the terrible weather situations currently occurring across this beautiful country, I call home, last night I felt a connection and interconnected to all that was around me.
And it was enough.
My mind quieted. I felt at peace.
I went home to bed and was able to sleep.