Wednesday Words on the Wild: Southern Cross

It was a good time for sitting together, Mma Ramotswe felt, and it was not necessary to say anything. That evening, the sky was all but white with stars, filled with acres and acres of constellations, right down to the horizon. She had learned the names of some of these clusters when she was younger, but had forgotten most of them now, apart from the Southern Cross, which could be seen hanging over the sky towards Lobatse, a pointer to the distant Cape and its cold waters. And the Milky Way was there too–she had always been able to identify that, like a swirl of milk in an ocean of dark tea. As a girl she had imagined the Milky Way was the curtain of heaven, a notion she had been sorry to abandon as she had grown up. But she would not abandon a belief in heaven itself, wherever that might be, because she felt that if she gave that up then there would be very little left. Heaven may not turn out to be the place of her imagining, she conceded–the place envisaged in the old Botswana stories, a place inhabited by gentle white cattle, with sweet breath–but it would surely be something not too unlike that, at least in the way it felt; a place where late people would be given all they had lacked on this earth–a place of love for those who had not been loved, a place where those who had had nothing would find they had everything the human heart could desire. ~ Alexander McCall Smith, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party

Southern Cross in Milky Way

Southern Cross Constellation

Every few months (almost as often another novel comes out) I read an installment of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. These novels are languidly-paced, and refreshingly non-cynical. I like to think of them as “palate-cleansers,” wiping my slate clean in preparation for the next literary serving.

Photo courtesy of Lonely Speck

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