Star Anise (Illicium verum)
Perhaps it has something to do with the season - this looking for and finding stars in all sorts of likely and unlikely places - snowflakes, apples and pomegranates, anise in the spice cupboard (one of my favorite seasonings), lights on the holiday tree in the study, jeweled and tinseled twinklings on the Yule wreaths adorning a thousand and one front doors in the village.
Then there are the stars on long, clear, cold and cloudless winter nights - at times they seem so close that one could gather them up in handfuls and paint the world with them. No wait, Lady Winter is already doing just that with her ice and snow and frost, and she is doing it better than I ever could.
The region of the summer stars is grand stuff in its appointed time and season, but oh, these spangled winter nights... Shivering in the garden, I remember something Carl Sagan said, and I smile. "We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff."
On clear winter nights, one can almost reach up and touch her starry ancestors and cousins up there in the sky, and it is always something special, every single time. Surrounded by kin in the night, my spine tingles, and I can hear my breath going in and out, feel my slowly thrumming heartbeat. For a moment or two, there's a delicious sense of community with everything around me. What a journey this lifetime is turning out to be, what a trip. Emaho!