When I was young, my grandfather would take me out into the vineyard as the stars were coming up. We would take an old sheet to lie down on and let the sky cover us up as if it were one giant blanket.
At night, the air doesn't move in the vineyard. We would lie between the rows of grapes and marion berries
and not a single leaf would rustle about. For some reason, this was always my favorite part. This silence when normally there would be constant noise.
Out there the night air was not blue, or purple
, or gray. But a soft orange that stays long after the sun has gone down over the ocean.
I could lie on my back for hours and just stare up at the stars coming out and I did. Because it was beautiful; because I knew that this place might not last forever; because I could pretend it would as long as there was an open sky.
The vineyard was Sloane
's favorite place. Because it was quiet and it was safe. Because it was his, and mine, and no one else was allowed in at night, okay? Quiet time in the garden
Some nights we would hear wolves howling in the distance, and sometimes there were orchestras of crickets. And Sloane would be forced out of his usual silence to make a joke about whom the conductor was, and I would laugh because all jokes are funny when told by Sloane.
Then he would point out a constellation, leo minor
, ursa major; or there is procyon or vega
. Or something equally amazing and tell me stories about them, stories that I was sure no one else had heard before. Who he kissed under those stars; who he missed under those. How he wrote love letters to my grandmother under those stars. Julia, I'd do the stars with you anytime...
Sloane has always been an odd
man. Not weird, just odd. Something that you just can't quite put your finger on. He does not make you feel out of place, he does not make you nervous; he just carries this odd sense around him. Stoic. Distant eyes that have seen more than they will ever tell.
He could write volumes of work and never say a word. He said at one time that he just got so used to writing that he forgot how to speak. And I believe that the same thing is slowly happening to me.
So you can imagine, most of the time we didn't talk at all. My grandfather and I communicating through the bars of Orion
, at peace being in the garden.