Last night Pretty came home from a trip to the upstate, sat in her favorite chair, started peeling shrimp from the low country for supper and mentioned we needed to be sure to go outside to view the Great Conjunction when she finished eating. Thank goodness the weather person on the 6 o’clock news had spent much of his time talking about the Great Conjunction; otherwise, I might have appeared ignorant to Pretty.
And, but, or, for, nor, so, yet – coordinating conjunctions – seven words that connect other words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. The Great Conjunction which occurred on December 21, 2020 didn’t refer to these little conjunction words sprinkled throughout my writing – oh, how I love a good conjunction. No, the Great Conjunction is the name of a planetary phenomenon that takes place every 20 years when Saturn and Jupiter pass each other at their nearest point which I won’t even begin to try to explain in planetary distances except to say they are way farther than it is from South Carolina to Texas. Think gazillions of miles.
When Pretty finished eating, our little band of two plus three dogs walked single file as she opened the door to the backyard. The first day of winter, the winter solstice, meant darkness came early and stayed late. Night snuffed day like smokers snuffed cigarettes. Pretty and I stood together in the dark while we stared at the enormous sky above us. The dogs trotted off to make rounds.
“Darlene told me it’s to the left of the moon,” Pretty said. “Or maybe she said the right of the moon.”
“Your sister’s best help was starting with the moon?” I asked.
“Yes. I think she figured that’s the only thing we could find.”
“Point taken,” I said. But harsh.
We stood searching the skies until I said, “I think I’ve found them.”
Pretty followed my finger pointing to the right of the moon and said, “That’s a satellite. I can see it’s moving. You can’t see Saturn or Jupiter moving at that speed.”
We gave up our search for the Great Conjunction after a few minutes, even though this was the closest the two planets had been since 1623. We were cold, the dogs had completed their rounds, ready for warmth and treats. The next Great Conjunction would be in 2040…something to look forward to.
The only good thing I can say about the winter solstice with its longest night of the year is it starts the countdown toward spring. For 2021, I am also counting down toward inaugural events including the inauguration itself signaling a change in the direction of leadership in America. I am counting down to successful vaccines that will make Covid 19 as far removed from the world as Saturn is from Jupiter. I am counting down to longer days and longer lives, too.
The year 2020 is the poster year for lives lost across planet earth due to a pandemic known as Covid. The world of country music hasn’t gone unscathed from that plague or other vicissitudes of life, as my daddy used to say. Kenny Rogers, Mac Davis, John Prine, Joe Diffie, Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels – to name a few. Little Richard, who I wouldn’t call a country singer exactly, but a singer who always entertained me when he performed and played his piano. Elvis’s grandson Benjamin who died at the age of 27 and is now buried next to him at Graceland. I didn’t know Elvis had a grandson.
But on the day of this winter solstice, two more women died from Covid. K. T. Oslin’s name was added to the 2020 country music losses. K. T. (born Kay Toinette Oslin on May 15, 1942 in Crossett, Arkansas ) was one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever. Her music spoke to me as it did to thousands of other women in the eighties decade of the twentieth century when I was much younger and much more energetic just like the other boomers. In the late 80s I saw her perform in a concert in Greenville, South Carolina. She was fabulous: sexy, gorgeous, singing only to me. “80s Ladies” was her biggest hit first released in 1987, but I’ll never forget this one. How about you? Do Ya?
On 12-21-20 the State newspaper reported 21 deaths; 2,121 new Covid cases in South Carolina. One of the 21 people lost in the state was Pretty’s aunt, the eldest of her mother’s eleven brothers and sisters. The purpose of Pretty’s trip to the upstate I mentioned earlier was to stand with her sister and many of their first cousins outside a nursing home to sing carols to her three aunts who lived there. All three aunts had Covid. Unfortunately, Thelma the eldest aunt died in the early morning hours before they arrived, her Aunt Cooter was being taken to her doctor who later in the day diagnosed her with pneumonia and the third aunt, Iris, had severe dementia. She wouldn’t remember them or their visit, but family had gathered to celebrate “the aunts” with familiar Christmas carols while I stayed home to try to stay safe which is my Christmas wish for all of our friends in cyberspace this holiday season.
I encourage each of you to stay safe, stay sensible, stay sane and please stay tuned.