I had hoped the great conjunction we would experience would put the crystal right again. That the great divide would be no more, and that we would realize that we need balance—the gentle mystics and the self-centered, cruel skeksis are both part of what make up each of us. When we separate and deny the others’ existence, our world collapses.
That’s a lot to ask of the suns to fix (or in this case Jupiter and Saturn). At the very least, maybe we could find something we could all get behind, a magical heavenly event that would bring us together and realize how minute our little human problems are.
In order to witness the great conjunction, you had to look into the southwest sky just over the horizon, right after sunset. That’s a pretty specific time. I checked my StarGaze app on December 19th, and it appeared that the planets would be out of view below the horizon only an hour after sundown. And given where my house, the trees, and streetlamps are, the planets couldn’t be viewed from my little plot of land in Burbank.
There was only one place to go to assure seeing it: the horizon. (Not the event horizon just the horizon where this event was taking place.) So on the Winter Solstice, Tucker and I headed west again, this time to Douglas Family Preserve, a few miles south of More Mesa (and, according to one map, just north of The Mesa… which may explain More Mesa’s nomenclature).
Reading a bit on it, I learned that this plot of preserved land is owned by the Douglas Family (Michel, Kirk and the gang). It seemed like it might be truly the closest thing to Fort Funston we could get: a wide open space along a bluff that has various trails and allows dogs off leash in most areas. And a beach down below which your dogs are free to roam about off leash as well.
Granted Tucker can’t be off leash, but a lot of reviewers kept their dogs on leash because their dogs might run right off the cliff. I think Tucker would dive off the cliff, not fall—but mostly, I just don’t think he’d come back when asked.
The plot of land is accessible at the end of a cul-de-sac, where people were entering and exiting, leashing up their dogs as they entered the neighborhood.
I wasn’t sure which direction to walk as there were some areas off limits to dogs and the signs were a little confusing on where they could be, couldn’t be, or could be but only on leash. I followed the first person with dogs I saw and off we went.
Luckily, people were actually pretty cool here. We ran into the dog later on in our travels, and I mentioned that Tucker didn’t like that this dog had tried to play with him like that, and his person said, “Ranger tried to mount him? Well, good for Tucker for not putting up with that.” And she walked on.
When Tucker barked at another dog he didn’t like and he scared him off, that dog’s person just called him back (four times before he went, but at least he tried). Overall, most dogs and their people seemed responsible and polite, and it wasn’t crowded.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the Great Conjunction. But I was the only one who had misjudged what time sunset was. I had estimated 4:30 would be dark based on on my Burbankian experience. Turns out 4:53pm was actual sunset. Which left Tucker bored for half an hour, when we stopped walking around. He seemed to be getting cranky with the other dogs, so I opted to just find a place on the ledge and take a seat.
Tucker didn’t appreciate the astronomical significance of the moment and was tired of waiting around. I needed to make it back across the mesa before I lost sight of the trail, so we headed out shortly after I felt I had taken in this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Sadly though, it hadn’t healed the crystal.
But when I looked back at the horizon, I did see more than an astronomical conjunction. I saw people, families, children, and dogs, lined up together (while being safely apart)—conjoined, if you will.
There is no Dark Crystal to heal. But we can come together, we can empathize and sympathize and listen to one another. We can find common bonds. Jupiter and Saturn aren’t really close to one another at all. They’re millions of miles apart. But they look like they’re together from where we stand. Maybe that’s the lesson we should take from this: that in the end, that’s all we should expect from one another as well. Let’s be apart, but find someone or something that joins us together—even if it’s two planets, far apart coming together.