Full moon best prize of evening
Last weekend, on a long ride home from a very long awards banquet, I was happy to see a giant full moon in the evening sky. Maybe you heard about last Saturday’s moon, which seemed larger than usual because the moon was passing closer to Earth. I saw the moon in fields over farming country near Marksville, where it hovered like a white balloon over the landscape.
There are sun lovers and moon lovers, and I’ve always thrown in my lot with the moon. I can understand why some ancient people worshiped the sun, which could not be viewed directly without injury, and seemed something to be feared more than embraced. The moon, on the other hand, has the cool and comfortable familiarity of a friend. Or so I concluded as a child, watching the moon from the car window during long night rides. The constancy of the moon as we traveled suggested that it was following me and me alone, a wise and interested companion presiding over the miles. Like many youngsters, I indulged the assuring assumption that the world had been made expressly for my satisfaction. The moon, routinely grand and bright but not blinding, made me feel that this was so.
Spotting the super moon last Saturday, I phoned from the road to share the news with my wife and son, hoping they’d be able to catch a glimpse of the moon, too. But rain was falling steadily on our city street, and a canopy of clouds obscured the view. My wife resorted to driving around the neighborhood, as if steering a chase car behind a dirigible, while she angled for a better vantage point. But it was all for nothing; the moon stayed hidden behind a thick curtain of gray.
That our views of the moon should have been so different last Saturday, although only a few miles separated us, reminded me that we have only one moon, but a hundred ways of seeing it. That’s the point behind a book on my nightstand at the moment, James Attlee’s “Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight.” Attlee, who lives in England, decided to travel around the world to see how the moon looked at places along the way. Attlee attends a Buddhist full-moon ceremony in Japan, meets a moon jellyfish on a beach in northern France, takes a moonlit hike in the Arizona desert, and experiences a lunar eclipse in the hills of Wales.
“My search for moonlight has taken me across the world and out into my own back garden,” Attlee tells readers. “What have I found at the completion of my journey? Not an ending so much as an ongoing process . . . an opportunity to count the days until we can close the door behind us and venture out once more on to moonlight’s unwritten page.”
Watching the moon on the ride home last Saturday, I remembered a friend who had attended an awards banquet on the Gulf Coast a few years ago. What he remembered most from the experience was a walk on the beach after dinner. My own banquet was nice, too. But what will probably linger in memory is the sight of the moon on the ride home — a reminder of moons past, and a promise of moons to come.