Author : M. Irene Hill

Today’s sunrise is a Chinese watercolor painting, with inky tree branches in the foreground of an ombre sky. Below a band of monochrome cloud, a thin line of cinnabar melts into pink chrysanthemum in rhythmic balance. I imagine that a bird’s eye view would bring harmony to the richness and texture of the landscape. On cue, a profusion of chickadees bursting from their nests can be heard as they cheer on the sun god.

Lacking feather and flight, I can only revere this daily miracle from the comfort of my favorite window seat. My roots have grown deep into the earth since the last time I punched through Earth’s exosphere. People had once called me Space Cowgirl. Now they just call me Marie – or Mommy.

I had played my role in shattering the metaphorical glass ceiling. The number of female space travelers has quadrupled since Cosmonaut Valentina did her first spacewalk so many moons ago. At age 39, I decided it was time to hang up my spacesuit and step aside to make room for my sister space walkers. Space had been like a cornucopia of my wildest dreams. I greedily plucked each asteroid harvesting mission offered to me, but then one day I realized I’d had my fill.

Seeing the orbital sunrise on Earth from a vantage point in space is truly breathtaking, but my perspective is now limited by earthly matters of hearth and home. There is always that transient desire to uproot and set sail on a sea of stars, and I’m not sure it will ever fade completely. But for these briefest moments while my children are soundly sleeping and my mouth is filled with the rich taste of coffee, when the sun god awakens from his slumber and stretches, I am content on this blue planet.

Sun god kisses my lips good morning; his kiss is a song written indelibly upon my heart. I taste its essence, and breathe its color. Its warmth seeds my soul. I am a poet, a painter, a philosopher, a star walker, and a mother – or as Carl Sagan would say, I am star stuff harvesting starlight.

I hear the faintest stirrings of my little star mites. Sigh. I check my solar panel battery indicators on the inside of my wrist: four bars. I stretch my eyelids open wider to harvest more starlight. Five bars – Houston, we are go for launch.

“Who wants blueberry pancakes for breakfast?”