Saturday, June 9, 2012

love bite

For June 6's transit of Venus, we convene a few friends for supper in the garden and set up a primitive projection system for watching the progress of the planet across the sun. Here, Venus has just started her passage; through the evening she will burrow deep into the heart of our star and slip away only after nightfall.

The supper is from the garden - lettuce, beets, potatoes, grilled onions, grilled polenta - and comes together with the help of a few enthusiastic assistants.

Few are willing to listen to my deeply-researched lecture on the importance of the transit in the history of science and exploration, but we all resolve to convene again the next time Venus intrudes upon the sun. Somewhere.

In anticipation of the occasion, I reread Shirley Hazzard's Transit of Venus. Hazzard, born in Australia (a continent whose "discovery" was a by-product of Captain Cook's voyage to observe the 1769 transit), is a consummate prose artist. Her most recent novel, The Great Fire, is my favorite. Both explore the lives and loves of endearing characters in the stark post-World War II moral and physical landscape.

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