Tuesday, April 19, 2011

time-lapse video from the Canary Islands and nostalgia for the Himalayas

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

On summer nights, my dad would set up the telescope in the backyard, and we would scan the night sky, identifying Venus low on the horizon just after dusk, Mars with his reddish hue, Saturn with his rings, or on rare occasion the mighty Jupiter and his cluster of tiny moons.  As a child I could identify constellation after constellation in our northern hemisphere sky, a feat I can sadly no longer claim, as those memories have fallen into the abyss of my mind, stashed somewhere alongside my dinosaur catalog.  My fascination with the stars followed me to my slumbers, as my dad and I mapped out our Pennsylvania night sky (for the month of February, I believe, as it is my birth month) in glowing stars on my bedroom ceiling in our previous house, and it remains with me today, though I cannot rattle off the impressive facts that the precocious childhood-me knew by heart.

I would love to one day create a time-lapse video or (more realistically) a gorgeous long-exposure photograph of the night sky.  Had I brought a tripod and a few extra layers along with me on my trek through the Himalayas, I would have had access to the perfect shot.  In particular, I am thinking of a night at Dole, a small village on the way to the Gokyo valley at an altitude of 4040 meters.

The lodge I was staying in had a small bathroom through the dinning hall and down in the basement, near the majority of the rooms.  I, however, was sleeping in one of the four (even colder) rooms at ground level, and lost access to the toilet when the tea lodge locked up for the night.  At altitude, you constantly feel like your bladder is full-- a good thing, as frequent urination is a sign of the body acclimatizing-- which means that it is rare to sleep through the night without waking at least once for a bathroom break.  For me this meant running outside and bearing it all to the elements in the adjacent barren fields.  As the cold stung my rear, I happened to look up, away from the urine splashing at my sock-and-teva-ed feet.  The night was calm, the clouds had parted, and I caught the most perfect night sky imaginable.  Out of habit, I located my favorite, Orion, in an attempt to get my bearings, and fought to suppress all of the emotions welling up inside of me.  I wanted to scream out to nobody in particular, to express being floored by such a grand, yet so simple, display of nature, to share it with everyone and keep it all for myself at the same time.  Pulling my fleece pants back up, I was determined to ascertain the proper reaction before returning to a night of restless sleep.  I looked up to the sky for an answer only to realize that hot tears had stung my eyes and were streaming down my face.

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