If you are a city dweller, you must drive out of town, from time to time - it is good for your soul - in the quiet early morning hours until you leave the streetlights behind. Drive down a country road and stop. Get out and look up at the wonder. Have you forgotten how many stars there are up there on a clear night when you are surrounded by darkness?
It wasn't until much later that I learned there is a completely different view of stars for people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. There are just as many, but they are different stars with different arrangements, different constellations with different names than the ones we see in the Northern Hemisphere. People in South Africa and Australia don't know about the big dipper, or can't see it if they do know about it.
It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere now, hot. The rains have begun in South Africa, almost finished now, in fact. Soon they will be able to build their new houses and businesses without constant interruption from the rain. It's the same world, but yet a very different world than ours. Monkeys in the trees shitting on their clean car when they go out to drive to work in the morning; cursing the monkeys - not a problem we encounter that much here in the States. Durban is alive with tourists now, a jewel on the Indian Ocean; and the tourist cruises are in full sway off the beautiful coast of Mozambique.
Here we are digging out from yet another in a string of snow storms. In the early morning darkness I look up at the sky and through the broken winter clouds I see the moon, almost full now, the first full moon of the decade - and a few stars. Not many stars through the mostly cloudy sky, and I live in a city now anyway. I think briefly of Neil Diamond's song about everyone in history, Alexander the Great and Jesus Christ, looking up at the same moon and regretting their lives being done so soon. I shiver and come back inside.