It occurred to me Friday night, as I looked up at the clear and cold night sky, that in all the weeks of the Monday Blog I have not written about one of my favorite things all the Universe: the Moon. Those of you familiar with my work know that full moons are a repeating motif in my art and it is not uncommon for me to feel like a painting isn’t really finished until it has a big, white celestial body (although you might find a considerable number of suns, as well) floating somewhere on the canvas.
And, my first book, I Love The Night, was a heartfelt homage to all things nocturnal, but it’s the Moon that makes a big appearance, both on the cover and throughout.
My third book, Mavis & Her Marvelous Mooncakes, is a complete shout out to the Moon and celebrates its endless cycles with a cat who bakes the world’s most delicious and amazing cake. When I visit schools, many children ask me about this preoccupation with the night, and with the Moon in particular. And, so I tell them the deep, dark, secret of my childhood…
I was afraid of the dark.
Not just afraid… but terrified… terrorized… totally, completely, all the way, super deluxe, scaredy-cat scared. And I kept it a secret because this irrational and off the charts fear lasted well into my teenaged years. When I was younger, I was afraid of the scratching and chewing monsters that undoubtedly came creeping into your room as soon as the lights went out and it was during the ages of about 7-8 that I had the only recurring nightmares of my life, that of being crushed by a big, dark rock. Unlit basement stairs were especially frightening. Being alone on porches or patios at night and not being able to see what was lurking behind the bushes was agonizing. And, sprinting home from a neighborhood babysitting job may have actually been the start of my running abilities. Later, and perhaps due to the fact that my mother was a horror film buff, my fears became more wild and unhinged, including more paranormal stuff like demons, ghosts, devils, witches and the possessed. At the age of 13, I was still relying on magic blankets, pulled all the way up to my chin, to keep me safe in my bed, even in the stultifying mid-Missouri summers, on the second floor with no air conditioning turned on.
And then the fear stopped. Just stopped. One day in young adulthood I realized that, somewhere along the way, I had fallen in love with the night, and was completely over the moon for the Moon.
Because I have written a couple of books about nighttime, I actually know more than a few facts about the Moon and there are lots of science-y things that are very cool to think and learn about when it comes to the Moon but you can get those off of a million web sites by googling “moon facts.” Here are just a few things I love about the Moon…
I love that it is close enough to Earth that we can look up into the endless sky and actually see its planet-like surface; it feels comforting to me as a tiny speck on this blue marble of ours.
I love that it is always changing from night to night and that, unless you are paying close attention, you will miss its best cyclical performance of being full.
I love that no one lives there.
I love how sometimes you can see it up there in the sky all throughout the daytime.
I love that the words for moon in other languages are often decidedly lyrical. Luna.
I love that it has a close relationship to the tides and I LOVE the way it looks over the ocean. A full Moon over the ocean is sublime… I think I love this most of all.
So, I thought of today’s post on this past Friday night during December’s full moon. Yesterday morning I was up before the sunrise and I threw on a coat over my pajamas to stand out in the front yard and give it another look. In writing this blog, I discovered a web site where you can check when nearly all the full moons were for years and years into the way gone past. I have a personal superstition about things, both good and bad, that happen on a full moon and I was so sure that I would click back to the day of my birth and find out that, yes, I was born on a full moon! I mean, really, it would be so poetic, so perfect, if that were true, right? I was certain it had to be. I must have been born on a full moon. But, I wasn’t. And, depending on whether the lunar month of September, in 1968 was a 28, 29 or 30 day one, I was either born on a very lucky or very unlucky day.
Yesterday I talked with a 75 year old man for over a half hour about his recent experiences. He’s a thoroughbred horse racer who lives between NJ and Kentucky, a philosophical and charismatic man who’d still been doing triathalons up until some spinal surgery that went awry. He’d quite literally escaped death earlier this year but had decided not to take running off the table yet. The word luck came up in our conversation and he scoffed and told me.. we make our own luck. So, you know what? I’m going with lucky.
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