The sun shone furiously over a huge shoulder of cloud this afternoon: cars kicked bursts of water up from the drenched streets, like December pedestrians panting puffs of steam into the frosty air. Every drop and cloud of spray sparkled. Blaze, old girl, one more time!
A couple days ago the streetlights came on at four in the afternoon. Real cold has started to filter into the house. I start reckoning the time to the solstice. But the sun is still slipping away from us, dallying with New Zealanders, Chileans, South Africans.
Last night, I came out of the house where I'd been doing a massage, and Auriga was high in the sky, in a deep recess between curtains of cloud, and a planet of incredible brightness was burning, right up there beside it in Taurus, totally outshining Aldebaran. To my chagrin I couldn't say what planet it was: it seemed too yellow for Venus, but too bright for Jupiter. Altogether it was an eerie sky, with its unclaimed planet, and the folding wings of cloud around it. Auriga hangs like an interdict upon my hopes, at the best of times: neither it nor any of the winter constellations have ever had any love for me.
And now the sun has been buried. Everything is dark again, and a steady rain is falling. Cold. Last night as I washed up for my massage I held my hands in the hot water a long time before they finally warmed up.
According to Sky and Telescope, that planet was indeed Jupiter. No explanation of its brilliance, though. Maybe sometimes it just gets tired of being the runner-up to Venus.