Sunday, 16 September 2012


Cumulonimbus cloud hits the tropopause

It serves me right, alluding to the menopause in yesterday's post. Partly because of a lazy day yesterday, partly because of some physical discomforts arising from the aforementioned condition, I slept very fitfully last night. Words, as they often do when I'm lying awake, kept rolling round in my mind - especially the m-word. Menopause...

Pause...  "Hit the pause button a minute..."; "Can we pause there a moment?" So often pause has such a fleeting, momentary sense. Nothing of great significance. But at its root is something stronger: stop, cease, ending.  And therefore, beginning? Some other "-pause" words...

Tropopause. The boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, where air ceases to cool with height and becomes almost completely dry. Literally, the place where the familiarity of weather stops. Where even mighty, vigorous cumulonimbus clouds are stopped in their track, their heads flattened into anvils: beware storms! The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? The Boundary of the Beyond.

Heliopause. The elusive and long-sought-after boundary between Earth's solar system and interstellar space. Where the solar wind drops and the Sun finally relinquishes its dominion; the edge of our own neighbourhood, where Deep Space begins. The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? The Boundary of the Beyond.

As always when I can't sleep, I remembered this poem:

The Unending Sky (by John Masefield 1878 – 1967)
I could not sleep for thinking of the sky,
The unending sky, with all its million suns

Which turn their planets everlastingly
In nothing, where the fire-haired comet runs.

If I could sail that nothing, I should cross
Silence and emptiness with dark stars passing,
Then, in the darkness, see a point of gloss
Burn to a glow, and glare, and keep amassing,

And rage into a sun with wandering planets
And drop behind, and then, as I proceed,
See his last light upon his last moon’s granites
Die to dark that would be night indeed.

Night where my soul might sail a million years
In nothing, not even death, not even tears

Thank God, there is no Theopause!

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