Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Full Moon

There's a total lunar eclipse tonight, from 7 p.m. til 10 or so, Mountain Time. But that's not what I'm writing about.



Lunar eclipses always occur during full moons. And full moons always rise exactly at sunset (if that seems mysterious, a pencil and paper will help you figure out why). And that's what I'm writing about: that exact moment when the sun is perched on one horizon, the moon on the opposite. Happens once a month. It's a charged moment, as if the moon, sun and Earth are all in precarious balance for a brief instant. Time seems to slow down to accommodate it, balanced as well. Then the moon goes up, the sun goes down, the moment is over, time snaps back, life goes on. We try to experience it firsthand several times a year, by driving out to the bank of the Arkansas River to watch the full moon rise. The girls, predictably, are more interested in playing with the car radio than watching the moonrise.

In "Gilead," one of my favorite books ever, Marilynne Robinson does a much better job of of describing it than I:
"Then I realized that what I saw was a full moon rising just as the sun was going down. Each of them was standing on its edge, with the most wonderful light between them. It seemed as if you could touch it, as if there were palpable currents of light passing back and forth, or as if there were great taut skeins of light suspended between them. I wanted my father to see it, but I new I'd have to startle him out of his prayer, and I wanted to do it the best way, so I took his hand and kissed it. And then I said, 'Look at the moon.' And he did. We just stood there until the sun was down and the moon was up."

Such clear, simple writing.

So bundle up and go outside tonight (or stay in the car with the heater on like we do) and look up at the sky for awhile. See the moon and the sun and the Earth at play.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed both Robinson's and your descriptions of a lunar eclipse. Can't wait to see some of it with the girlios this evening!
Li'l Hux

Eric Shonkwiler said...

Had that very thing happen while driving through Texas. Night of the last eclipse. Beautiful description, and I've been wanting to use "skein" in something forever.

Victoria Gothic said...

But oh! that glowering goddess perched in opposition of the fading life light stretching over the horizons. The moon- that ever waiting divinity, ever present over we mere mortals meandering motions mask maliciously made misgivings; but it is her perch to watch such misgivings as to also understand them by her same moon-shed tears of purity reigning down from above into the few who will only to wait, and watch, and become silent.

Irrelephant said...

Beautiful stuff. It's funny how we as mortals can take such simple things as planetary motion, the play of gravity and counterbalance and see...everything.

I had the camera ready, tripod set up, glanced out at the sky--pouring rain. Overcast. Nothing. I'm crushed.

glove.box said...

I'm in cloudy England - lucky if I can even pick out the end of one cloud and the beginning of the next, haha.

I see you've recently read Breakfast of Champions by Mr. Vonnegut. That's one of my favourites. Nice choice. :]

Mona Buonanotte said...

Argh...missed it!

I love the 'Gilead' reference...is the rest of the book just as good?

Clowncar said...

Thanks, l-hux! Too bad the clouds didn't cooperate.

Erik, I can safely say I've never used the word "skein" in my life. Taking up knitting might be the only way to casually drop it into conversation.

Vic, you are a fine young writer. "to wait, and watch, and become silent" is exactly how I feel when watching the night sky.

Irr, I commiserate. Saw a ghost of it through a scrim of cloud, but nothing to write home about.

Glovebox, I really enjoyed Breakfast of Champions. The chapters in the motel bar where the main characters all collide are pitch-perfect.

Mona, the book is better than the quote. Read it. Housekeeping - her other bok - is supposed to be wonderful too, but I haven't read it yet.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I wish I'd seen it... I told everyone about the eclipse, but I had class and couldn't get out to see it.
And... there were some clouds, but I heard all about it from others and have enjoyed that, a lot. Not as much as seeing it, which of course, would have been ideal...

Thanks for sharing it.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Clowncar said...

Scarlett, yeah, we had lotsa clouds too. You could see it, but barely.