Star the twentieth

I’m creating a virtual star chart, to record my progress in Dry July. The star for making it through Tuesday 20 July without touching the demon drink is the night sky wheeling above the Church of the Good Shepherd in the Mackenzie country.

(Description: dusk to dawn time-lapse camera sequence of the southern hemisphere sky.)

Take a minute and twenty seven seconds to watch this. It’s worth it.

The Mackenzie country runs down the eastern side of the Southern Alps in New Zealand’s South Island. It’s very sparsely populated, so there’s very little light pollution. The air is gloriously clear and clean, and the night skies are stunning.

The Church of the Good Shepherd stands on the edge of Lake Tekapo, a glacial lake that has the most improbable turquoise colour. It’s hard to find an on-line image that reproduces the colour: this one comes close.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

(Description: Flowering Russell lupins in the foreground, greeny-blue lake in the middle ground, summer mountains with some snow on them in the background, blue sky overhead.)

I dipped a toe in the water once, and promptly took it out again. Even in the height of summer, it is icy cold.

Outside the church, there is a statue of a sheepdog, in tribute to all the hardy sheepdogs “without the help of which the grazing of this mountainous country would be impossible.” When my husband and I last visited the Mackenzie country, way back in 1997, we sent a postcard of the statue to my brother’s German shepherd, saying “Hey!” I’m not overly fond of dogs, but I do like this statue, in part because my mother’s father and brothers and many of my cousins are sheep dog triallists, very successfully so. Even though I grew up in town, at family gatherings and through the family grapevine, I would hear of this one or that who had a promising pup, or an excellent dog, and from time to time see the dogs working with the sheep. It was amazing to see the skill with which my uncles and cousins worked with their dogs. Stars in their field, into the third generation.

Many thanks to Ele for letting me know about the Youtube clip by e-mail. She also linked to it on her own blog, Homepaddock.

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7 comments on “Star the twentieth

  1. Pavlov's Cat says:

    You’re doing so well! (I, on the other hand, am sitting here with a generously measured and richly earned glass of Glenlivet.) And your stars are beautiful.

    I spent half my childhood watching my dad and his dad work with sheepdogs, and my grandfather was a sheepdog-trials judge at the Royal Adelaide Show for years and years. So I know exactly what you mean about them.

  2. That time lapse youtube vid is a thing of wonder. It makes me want to travel to New Zealand. I haven’t been for many years, but I do remember driving through Mackenzie country (in an old Bedford that needed a decent tail wind to reach the speed limit).

  3. Chally says:

    That video is amazing.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I had a swim of exactly one minute (timed by the sensible person on shore) in that lake twenty years ago – we egged each other on to cope with the cold. I agree, the colour is astonishing. I took a whole film of photos, and none of them captured it.

    Well done on making it this far!

  5. M-H says:

    That was a lovely vid. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Milky Way so clearly – now I understand how it got its name, back in the day when the stars could have been seen like that everywhere every night.

    And I’ve been to that church, in 1969 or thereabouts, on the last extended trip I took with my parents.

  6. Carol says:

    Gorgeous vid, thanks Deborah (and Ele). It put me in mind of the descriptions of ‘dust’ in Phillip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ series.

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