Big Moon



I have a friend – retired – who, when she knows a major astronomical event is going to happen (whether lunar eclipse, Aurora Borealis, or a simple meteor shower), will set her alarm for 2 AM. She gets up, wraps in a blanket, and goes outside to watch the phenomena from her lawn chair on the beach. That seems, to me, like the best sort of involvement in the world: to be aware, appreciative, and present for the event.

Personally, I don’t have the stamina. I could, for instance, know that it would be a good time for viewing the northern lights. I might have marked it on the calendar, and checked the forecast to see if the sky would be clear. I might even go so far as to set the alarm. When it goes off, though, at two o’clock in the morning, I will just turn it off and go back to sleep. If I am up out of bed to let the dogs out, I may venture on to the porch to have a look…if the weather is mild. If I happen – out of sheer luck – to catch a glimpse of something special, I’ll simply give it a nod of appreciation before going back inside.

It’s not that I don’t care. My daughter and I once spent four hours on Donegal Bay, waiting to view a lunar eclipse. On my fortieth birthday, on my way home after a long day, I happened to notice the sky: it was filled with ribbons of green and pink, the northern lights at their best. I went and got my sisters up, and we wandered the town, looking up at the night sky. Another time my friend Bob and I spent a couple hours lying on our backs in the sand, in the middle of the night at Iron Ore Bay, watching falling stars. I take note of the moon and stars, most anytime the opportunity arises. I’m just not very good at dragging out of bed for any of it.

Tonight, though, was the best night for viewing the super moon, and I was ready. It looks largest, they say, early in the evening when it is just rising, and closest to the horizon. It’s an optical illusion that makes it appear so big, when it is close to the earth. Because it’s Sunday, my work day was short, and I was home long before the moon was rising, even with the days so short.

I worked on clearing windfall from the yard, and took the dogs for a long walk. As we were coming back toward the house, there was the moon, visible through the trees. Just as predicted, it looked huge. I snapped a picture…then another. To my naked eye, it was an amazingly large moon; on the camera, it looked just average-size. I toggled back and forth for a bit, from the view through the camera (where the moon looked just normal) to the normal view (where the moon looked extraordinary). Then I decided, on this rarest of occasions when I am present for a special occurrence, that I would quit trying to analyze it, and simply relax and enjoy the view.

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

7 responses »

  1. I tried to capture a photo of the super moon too. Much to my disappointment it appeared in the photo just as yours did, a normal-sized moon. Not only that, it was blurry and stupid. The whole thing made me think, just look at it and enjoy it in person and don’t go around trying to “share” it with others.

    Thank you for your post, for making me feel fine with experiencing the moment instead of feeling like I have to capture it behind the lens.

    The moon was fabulous in MN, by the way. I saw it on Saturday; Sunday was overcast.

    • It took me a while to figure out, and I’m still not sure if it’s just that everything looks smaller through the camera lens, or if the optics really made it look so much larger to the naked eye. In any case, nice to just set the camera aside. I always think of a time with my sister, on Donegal Bay when the sun was going down, when she said, “Oh darn, I forgot my camera! That would have been a beautiful sunset!” Though I knew what she meant, I put my hand on her arm and said, “Oh, honey, it’s still beautiful, even without the camera!”

      • So much real life is lost behind the lens of a camera. I love that you call your sister “honey.” I do the same with my sister!

      • Honey, and Sweetheart, too. My sisters, my kids… and an ever expanding array of acquaintances (and sometimes perfect strangers), when I don’t know or can’t remember a name!

  2. Views like that – or like seeing the sky streaked with colors – seem like gifts, and I send a quiet and gleeful ‘thanks’ to the universe that i was able to appreciate it… it was cloudy for the past full moon, yet the entire landscape was like approaching dawn.. even if i could not see the moon, it made its presence known!

    so you’ve written ‘big moon’ and ‘big wind’ —- inquiring minds are wondering, what’s next?

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