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Not quite a Christmas story

Not quite a Christmas story...

18-Dec-2020 15:48

but it does have stars (sort of)

2 weeks ago our one remaining cat, who is getting old and senile, howls us awake at 5am - not for the first time. Dave groans, turns over trying to get back to sleep. I stare up, through the triangular window high above our bed, into the stars beyond.

The double height geodesic dome has 7 triangular windows 3 metres up at what would be second floor level (if we had a second floor). Four triangular windows equally spaced around the sides and back of the dome, the remaining three joined together as one large window on the south facing side of it.

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We don't have blinds for two reasons - the first is I can't work out how to fit them and have easy access to open, close and clean without complicated electrical mechanisms for triangular windows. The second, and more romantic reason is that we can gaze up at the stars from our bed, watch the moon as it waggles it's way across the sky (shining into our eyes and waking us when it's full) and see the suns' rays light up the bamboo interior at dawn.

Back to my 5am star gazing - what's that line of stars I absently wonder?

I spend a little time in my head trying to remember if there's a constellation that looks like that, I don't think there is. I ask Dave if he's asleep, and if not what's that star constellation?

We both study the line of stars (him grumpily observing that he would be asleep if only I'd stop asking questions). But his curiosity is piqued. He has a slightly different view to me and can see flashing red lights above my line of twinkling white stars. Is it the International Space Station we both ask at the same time?

Dave grabs his phone and searches for it's route through the sky, where is it meant to be now? From our prone point of view our constellation is directly up and to the north - the North star burst into a string of diamonds and rubies.

I carry on looking, thinking it's far too large to be the space station, surely?

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Dave has found where the International Space Station should be, and it shouldn't be there. What else could it be? A plane? No it's not moving. A spy satellite? Conspiracy theories pop into our sleep deprived brains. But there's something we recognize about that strip of stars and those flashing red lights. If only we can join the dots, spark up our ageing synapses...

After half an hour and much discussion we give up, Dave gets up to make coffee - there's really no point trying to sleep anymore. As he walks to the kitchen he looks out of the large front face windows at the far mountains and... eureka!

Our south facing wall of toughened, double glazed glass makes living in this smallish space like living outside. It doesn't just double our perceptible space it quadruples it - times five! We called it glamorous camping before that became a thing with posh yurt glamping. It's much more solid, more grounded than a yurt. Nomads we are not. Sometimes I think it would be nice to pick us up, earthship, paddock, donkey, sheep and all, and plop us closer to the sea for a few months (winter months I hasten to add, sin tourists). But no, we aren't just fixed to the earth, we are embeded in it, a part of it.

I have bird feeding tables and water pots just outside at eye level (we're dug a few feet into the ground) so we can watch them breakfast as we have our morning coffee in bed. The Crested Larks are the first, they really do get up with the lark ;-) Then comes Bob the Black Redstart, all puffed up and, well, Bobbing. Lastly the sparrows swoop in, scaring everyone else off, to fight and twitter as they peck up the last of last night's seeds. After the sparrows have cleaned up the tiny warblers arrive and flit between plant stems picking off insects.

Keep up with Nature Reserve news


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A pair of rabbits hop into sight, white tails flashing us a hello. They start to do the morning weeding. I don't actually like the word weed, it always sounds so derogatory, something to be exterminated. These plants in their slightly wrong place for an ordered, tamed garden, are vital food. I leave them for the rabbits.

Back to the stars - what did Dave see on his way to make coffee? What is that line of stars with flashing red lights? A different viewpoint was all that was needed to answer this mystery.

12 kilometers into the mountains south of us rests the pretty village of Lucainena de las Torres. On the crest of the mountain above are a fleet of wind turbines. At night Lucainena lights up making a line of twinkling white stars with the flashing red warning lights of the turbines above.

How the light from this pretty, very much down to earth, constellation travels 12 kms, refracts and ends up on our back triangular dome window looking like the International Space Station is still taking some working out (Dave stands on the bed with a sheet of cardboard trying to block the reflection eager to work out where it comes in, to no avail). But it's ok, we have time as that spy satellite is just a figment of our addled, sleep deprived imagination.

What shall we call our newly found constellation, apart from the obvious? Pop your thoughts below ;-)

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Subscribe to our YouTube channel (above in top menu) to see the upcoming tutorial. It takes you through how to safely cut the cans, how to score and hang them with special tips and tricks for getting the best result. Make your own free decorations this year.

Get your free tin can robin decoration template


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