We waited for the storm, the lightning, the thunder,
But it did not come, instead, the sky behind the hills
In one brief instant, was alight, as if the true God
Wanted to warn us: the glorious sunset reminded us
That we are nothing without Mother Earth.
Soon all will be shrouded in darkness, or is her sense of light and shadow, of day and night now irremediably confused? After so long in space this would not be surprising, and what did they say on the training range? “When you’re landed, don’t expect to adjust without pain!” Slowly, the navigator removes the oxygen mask, then her helmet. Her long red hair is still held back, before she can relax she will have to wait and feel how she bears gravity on this planet. Her suit’s instruments said that the atmosphere was breathable. Perhaps the radioactivity level is on the high side for a planet with so few people around…
At least that is what her briefing said. She looks at the star sinking into the luminous clouds, on the horizon. “Earth sunsets can be stunning,” said the brief, “their atmosphere is saturated with thin particles of dust. It is not known if this is the result of volcanic eruptions, or of a human-made disaster, which may also explain the sparsely inhabited continents…”
We see the birds gather and fly, first as a small group, then swarming in a dark cloud, defying the glowing sunset. As the coulours change, as the sky turns from blue into purple, then into the deep hue of the coming night, they fly higher, for a short instant, to finally dive, back into the trees. Violet strikes appear in the sky, time seems suspended, the fleeting memories of the day prepare us to the silence that follows, to the peace yet to come.
We took the path out of the village and up the wooded hill, and we saw that the landscape was already wearing its early winter coat.
It was not cold, just that early evening coolness that makes one think of wood fire, and cosiness in a warm house.
You looked at the sky, in the direction of the soon setting sun, the pale blue of the horizon now tainted a deep orange.
Then we heard them: an impeccable flight of migrating cranes, the thin V shape of their formation cutting through the evening, dead on the orange globe.
You pressed my hand and said: “You see, they are flying all the way from the Baltic, over this landscape, every year, stopping somewhere in the Ardennes for the night, on their way to Southern Spain, or maybe even Africa, and, you know, our descendants will still see them, after we have long gone.”