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LIBRARY: Using windows to be healthy and happy at home

Before the term was trademarked, “window” meant an opening for light and air through a wall or vehicle.

Originally just a crack in the side of a stone or wooden wall, by the Middle Ages, artisans were crafting translucent windows by water-softening animal horns and hammering them thin and flat.

Thrifty 19th century pioneers used oiled paper for windows. Images seen through oiled glass were murky at best, but sufficient for pioneers to discern whether the person approaching did so in the jaunty, amicable manner of, say, Johnny Appleseed, who’d help them plant an orchard and read Swedenborg at night, or the surreptitious, skullduggerous manner of Cole Younger dodging from tree to shrub to water trough.

Modern windows are to hammered horn as Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS is to Tim Berner-Lee’s 1990 WorldWideWeb browser. They are completely interactive.

All you have to do to is look. All images are three-dimensional. There is no bezel. Your screen size is as wide as your horizon. Try it. You’ll be astonished.

For example, if you have an east window, look out before dawn when the sky is clear and just south of east, about 30 degrees above the horizon, you’ll see Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in a descending line in that order.

On Tuesday, April 14, the waning moon will be just to the right of Jupiter. On the morning of April 15, the moon will be below Saturn.

If you open a window while observing those planets, you’ll be amazed by the precise audio you’ll get of wrens, robins and mockingbirds.

Got a west window? Any night the sky is clear, open it at about 9 p.m., and about 45 degrees off the horizon you’ll see a brilliant light in the sky. That’s Venus.

Just to the right of Venus is a fuzzy grouping of seven stars, The Pleiades.

To the left of Venus is the constellation Taurus.

Turn southwest and you’ll see fabulous Orion. Use the three stars in Orion’s belt as a pointer east, and there’s brilliant Sirius, the dog star, head of the constellation Canus Major.

For best resolution, I heartily advise going immersive, outside and looking up. It takes a little time to get the hang of it, and you may feel uncertain or confused by the sheer magnificence of the multitude of stars at first, but the awe is worth it.

My friend Tim Janes said he likes to hear Shakespeare in his head when he looks at the stars.

A few days ago, I read a quote from Henry James that seems appropriate for stargazing now: “The joy of the world so waylaid the steps of his friends that little by little the spirit of hope filled the air and finally took possession of the scene.”

Look up, and use windows to understand the vastness, pleasure and hope of being healthy and happy at home.

What’s new digitally?

Join adult services librarians Angela and Jennifer for their new April online book group, The Bright Spot. The group will read “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton. Unlimited copies are available on Hoopla in ebook and audiobook format at www.hoopladigital.com/artist/3538794164.

The discussion will take place via Zoom meeting software at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28.

Email jennifer.clarkbooks@gmail.com or angela.clarkbooks@gmail.com if you plan to attend. They will send reminders and answer software questions. They hope this get together will be a bright spot in these trying times.

Library Director Julie Maruskin reopened and updated her Mater Seeds heirloom organic gardening blog. You can connect to it through the library’s Facebook page or materseeds.blogspot.com.

Enter the library’s National Poetry Month poem contest through the library’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/clarkbooks.

Stay safe. We wish you well.

John Maruskin is director of adult services at the Clark County Public Library. He can be reached at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com.