Saturday, December 10, 2011

Total Eclipse

December 10, 2011

Hi Andrea—

Unsuccessfully I am trying to ignore the fact it is December. 

The holidays.

Holly wreaths, noble firs decorated with multicolor lights and ornaments filling rooms with their fragrance, “dawn we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la la la,  join the ancient yule tide carol “. 

This was the morning of the blood orange moon. 

This was a morning the earth moved between the sun and moon casting its shadow—a total eclipse.  All the sunrises and all the sunsets in all the world joined in a perfect moment turning the moon from a bright white light to red, orange, pink. 

My bladder woke me.  It was still dark.  I grabbed my cell phone from the bedside table, checked the time.  It’s 4:25 I announced to a sleeping Steve.  He got up, eyes squinted against the predawn wakening, shuffled into the kitchen.  I heard the coffee grinder as I got dressed, smelled brewing coffee in the kitchen.

From the window in front of the kitchen sink, I saw the moon shining through the bare maple tree.  I caught the first shadow as mother earth left her dark, growing crescent across the cratered surface.

“It’s happening.”  I told Steve.

“And not a cloud in the sky.”  He answered from behind me as we looked out from the warmth of the kitchen window. “We should get our warm clothes on and go to the top of the hill.  We’ll be able to see it better from there.”

Sadie stirred in her kennel at the sound of the word “go”. 

The sun, the moon the earth would all be in perfect alignment.  On this morning the earth would cast its umbral shadow as it passed between moon and sun.  Sunrise and sunset would happen simultaneously.

The next eclipse like this would not occur until 2132.

All the sunrises and all the sunsets would meet in that perfect moment.  The earth’s atmosphere would filter out blues, leaving reds, yellows, oranges.  As the sun rose in the east behind us on the hill, the moon set in the west.

29 degrees.  Sadie , Steve and I got in the Subaru and headed for the top of the hill, above his house, under the power lines, where we could park and have a perfect vantage point.  On this total eclipse  of the moon morning, we were the only ones up there.

As we sat in the relative warmth of the car watching the western sky though the windshield, our exhalations frosted the inside windows.  We moved outside  to see better the earth shadow moving slowly across the moon.

“If you knew nothing about what was happening , what would you think?” Steve asked.

“You mean like if I was totally stupid and misinformed or like if I was prehistoric woman?”  I asked.

“Either.” He answered.

I thought a moment.  Savoring the moon disappearing, the sight of my warm breath leaving as I inhaled and exhaled.

“I would be awed.” I answered. 

I am  awed by forces I have no control over.  That I can see, but do not understand. 

A shooting star passes so quickly I wonder if I really saw it.

“A shooting star!” my exclamation  willing it real.

“Lucky you.”  Steve tells me.

Watching  the western horizon, on my right, Squak Mountain looks like a sleeping woman, lightly covered with a cloud down blanket.  Lights shine across her chest like diamonds.  She sleeps soundly between the setting moon, the rising sun, and still is witness to the beauty.

She does not wonder if she actually saw the shooting star, she knows it.

Her name is written in the shadowed craters of the blood orange moon.   Only she knows that secret name , the place it resides.

I watch her sleeping peacefully.  She does not toss and turn.  She does not wake at 4:25 a.m. because her bladder is full.

Together, Steve and I watch the moon disappear, lost in the shadow of earth.  

If we had turned away for second, we would have missed that moment.

The clouds on the western horizon, turning the horizon red, orange, yellow sherberts, brilliant at first, then fading into the day’s light.  

On the eastern horizon, the sun is rising to a perfectly blue sky.

The holidays are here.

Tis the season.

New Year’s Eve would have been your 30th birthday. 

I keep seeing presents I want to buy you.  A pink ceramic bowl with pirate skulls.  Fluffy holiday slipper socks.  Betty Boop pajama bottoms. 

I want to give you the copy of A Dog’s Purpose I just read and talk to you about it as you read it.  About the concept of reincarnation.

I want to ask you who you think will be the million dollar winner on The Amazing Race.  Can you believe those two snowboard guys got eliminated last week?

I want to take you to see The Decendants and talk about death in the abstract as if it had never touched our lives’ in such an intimate manner—the way bystanders can look at a gruesome accident and be glad it is not them. 

Should I order you a birthday cake.  Make your favorite turkey enchiladas?

I don’t know the answer to this question because it is a question I am trying to ignore.

Steve’s daughter is coming over later to make Christmas cookies.  Until then, I think I will lay back down and imitate the sleeping woman mountain. 

When the sun sets on the western horizon, and the waning moon rises in the east, I will remember sitting in the Subaru, watching an incredible natural wonder with Steve.

I will be grateful for these feelings as they wax and wane, as everything this holiday season is eclipsed by a shadow.