Welcoming summer

On this second day of summer, the family is scattered: Andrea back at Wheelock, Grant at work, Lori engaged in a project at El Colima this morning and then off to an afternoon wine tasting with her POT group (it’s not what you think).

Left alone, I decided to enjoy this gorgeous summer Saturday by hiking up Pitcher Mountain, a part of New Hampshire that I’ve not seen before. Once out of Nashua and Milford, the scenery was bucolic and the drive meditative. High clouds diffused the sun’s heat, the open sunroof circulated the still-cool air. I turned north out of Peterborough and, with hardly any traffic, made my way through Hancock, a quintessential New England town, and Stoddard, charming in its own way, to the parking area adjacent to the trailhead.

Had I known that the ninety minute drive would far exceed the 10 minute walk from trailhead to peak, I probably would have chosen another location. I’m glad I didn’t know. Despite the haze in the air, the views are amazing, and the setting provides perspective.

Sitting on a large granite rock at the peak, below the man made fire tower, I pulled out a little-used journal and put my thoughts to paper:

The view is expansive, yet hazy, as though pieces of the high clouds extend all the way to the ground. The undulating mountains extend all around, fully wooded except for one farm south and a lake to the east. A nice breeze keeps the sun’s warmth from being overbearing.

Why am I here? Why do I like to climb to the top?

Not really for the exercise, certainly not today given the surprisingly short walk.

Rather, it’s the view: the grandeur of the earth with an expansive 360° perspective. These granite rocks are timeless. The mountains underneath tell part of the story of the earth’s creation. Over millions of years, compared with under a hundred for me. This contrast provides a good dose of humility. And calm.

Life is all about perspective. And mountain peaks are a good source of that.

The undulating mountains

More photos from the hike here.

Send to Kindle

Perigee moon

Tonight’s full moon coincides with the perigee of the moon’s orbit around the earth. It’s all very straightforward, scientifically.

From Wikipedia, Orbit of the Moon

The moon’s orbit is elliptical (not circular), meaning its distance from the earth varies, slightly more than 42-Km from apogee to perigee, or about ±5.5% of its average distance from the earth. The ellipse of the orbit isn’t fixed; it gradually rotates (precesses), completing a rotation in just under 9 years. Add the geometric dynamics among the earth, moon, and sun that cause the phases of the moon — and you have a complex geometric problem.

Watching the moonrise, though, transcends all this geometry and physics. Shivering in the chilly evening, I see an orange orb slowly emerge from the clouds. With elevation, the orange becomes the familiar pale while circle that we glance at from time to time, taking it all for granted.

But tonight I wonder over how many billions of years has this scene played out, and for how many eons have human eyes watched this same spectacle and, without the knowledge of celestial mechanics, contemplated the causes. From such musings religions must have been born.

We, who are so bent on the notion that science can explain everything, need a dose of place and humility from time to time. For me, at least, tonight’s perigee moon provides that impulse for reflection.

“Goodnight moon.
Goodnight stars.
Goodnight air.
Goodnight noises everywhere.

Further reading and references:

  • Wikipedia article, Orbit of the Moon
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • 50 photos of the full moon from around the world (added March 23)
  • Send to Kindle