It is midnight. I am alone. Sitting on the concrete, dressed in my pajamas and an old ratty sweater. In my haste I forgot my shoes, so I am sitting here cross legged, clad only in socks and I think there is a hole near my right toe as I can feel a breeze. A colder than normal April night breeze. I set up my tripod beside me and loop a pair of binoculars over my head.
The thin clouds are somewhat wistful, wishing perhaps to linger alongside me, but the stars push their way through with a shove. Not tonight you! For what we are about to see is a rare and special nocturnal performance.
A lunar eclipse.
The night of the blood moon.
Therefore, I am rolling out the red carpet, welcoming the stars and their entourage. The planets are lining up and the celestial orchestra tunes up in anticipation of the main event. Celebrants gather to bear witness. There are parties all over the country, probably more warmly dressed than I.
Unfortunately I was not invited to any of them. And from my vantage point here on my driveway, I gather that none of my neighbors were on the list of VIP’s.
I look up and down my street and the lights are off in the neighboring houses. Part of me is sad, as I would readily share their company, I think. But a part of me is selfish, as I am a solitary explorer of the universe, or so I tell myself, and my only concern is that someone will peek through their windows and espy me sitting here and considering my age, think I am having a senior moment and call the police. Or worse, think I am an intruder, or even worse, a window peeper with a pair of binoculars sneaking a peek.
I secure my camera to the tripod and glance skyward to adjust the zoom, when I see it. The moon. Full of itself. Just like me. And across the night sky we are both illuminated. Both somewhat cratered and certainly well aged, but if nothing else, consistent in our heady comfort that we will keep an eye on one another in good days and bad.
A lunar eclipse. A moment of universal perfection. When the Sun, the Earth and the Moon align in formation. Sun. Earth. Moon. Each must play a part. The Moon sashays behind the Earth into its light or umbra. The Sun shimmers. And the Earth sits smack dab in the middle. While I, ride the middle planet, on the cold concrete in the dark of night.
The first is a slice. Like a bite out of a sugar cookie.
Ah. I run inside for a cookie, but there are none so I grab a handful of potato chips. I mean this IS a party after all.
Gradually, the surface of the moon disappears, nibble by nibble.
I shoot picture after picture.
It is now 2AM and the moon is a radiant orange ball. Soft light halos around its perimeter and I am agape with wonder. I want to yell, do you see it? Don’t miss it! But if I was dangerous at midnight, hollering at this hour will surely result in my arrest. Besides, the view is arresting enough in itself.
I rise and gather up my belongings and head back inside. As I enter the house, I notice the temperature gauge on the barometer...
... and it reads.... 22 degrees.
Twenty-two degrees! At that moment, I also notice that I cannot feel my hands or my feet and that my rear end is frozen. I think I have hypothermia. Oh, and that hole in my sock, well, my toe is sticking out and oh my dear me what have I done? About twenty minutes later, I begin to thaw and laugh right out loud at my foolishness, but I raise a fist in triumph, because I have proof that my midnight wanderings were worth a brush with death.
Pictures. I have pictures.
Ummm. No I don’t.
Am I disappointed? Nope.
I saw it with my own eyes. I was THERE.
Sometimes it is much more important to pause long enough to take in what is happening around you. To show up. To be patient. To put down all electronic and digital and telephonic gadgets. To try not to squeeze time into a single frame. To refrain from conversation and commentary and to simply be a witness to the grandeur.
A blood moon. A sign of a change. I saw my first one in the middle of a field with my fifth grade class. I stood beside our lead teacher, a marvel, a mentor, who taught Me how to teach. I am the same age now that she was then. That’s what she said to me that night. Be open to change. Be ready for it. And while you are being nimble and flexible and open and aware, if you feel at all nervous, just remember to look up, into the night sky, where everything, is always changing and where the stars and the moon and the sun rarely seem hysterical. In fact, she said...
You might even see a Moonbow.
I haven’t. Seen a Moonbow.
But they occur. All over the world.
And if I ever see one. I’ll invite you to the party.
Get your pajamas ready. And leave your cameras at home.
This one you’ll need to see to believe.
Oh and I did get one picture.
A moonbat and a full moon...