Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moon cycles

Our moon is beautiful as it cycles through its changes from new moon hanging close to the western horizon, not really visible until it is a thin sliver the next night, waxing to half moon on day 7, and on to full moon on day 14, which rises in the east as the sun sets in the west, and then waning backwards through half moon to new moon again in another 14 days. Each 28 days it happens all over again. What a wonder!

This photo was taken on June 14 when the moon was 3 days past the half moon, and you can see bats emerging from the Chiroptorium.

Wednesday, June 18 will be our full moon for this 28 day cycle. It is Tuesday tonight, and an almost full moon lights the Hill Country around us here at the Selah ranch-house. Because we don't have development around us or any bright lights, it illuminates the land and hills around us.

My friend Kathy Wilson, who you might recognize as the artist Kathleen Marie who did the pyrographic artwork of five different birds on the blog post from Monday May 19th with the title "Birding Workshop held May 17 and 18" sent me a wonderful piece of artwork. She also sent a short story about her walk in the light of a full moon. It was the Vernal Equinox, which is the time that day and night that are the same length (March 20).

Luna Blanca

Vernal Equinox (March 20, 2008) by Kathy Marie Wilson

It is so incredibly beautiful tonight, peaceful and luminous. I awake and think it is morning so I get up and find it is 3:00 am. The moon is so bright – it bathes everything in light that looks somehow like soft mist. I walk outside and think what a perfect night it would be to ride horses, a moonlight ride. I decide to take a walk. There is no need for a flashlight and that makes me feel giddy, like I’m getting away with something or holding onto a secret that no one else knows.

Last night before I went to bed I looked up at the sky and saw the brightest shooting star I have ever seen. It seemed like an explosion, undiminished as it disappeared. The sky is full of gifts tonight.

The dogs are asleep but Athena comes with me. I hear a frog sing in the pond, coyotes howl to the north then all is still. I’m struck by how full stillness can be and feel the prescience of silence.

The limestone boulders in Redbud Canyon are shining, reflective as mirrors. I walk back to Hope Spring and my shadow falls behind me. I realize I am following the moon and it leads directly to the spring where I want to go. The night is so quiet I can hear the cats’ footsteps as she follows me. That seems so impossible that it makes me smile. I stand by the spring and in the silence I can feel the rhythm of the night, like the vibration of molecules. In the stillness I sense motion, the energy of life, invisible, tangible, peaceful chaos: the riot of quiet.

Nothing stirs but Athena and me. The air is cool, delicious. Suddenly, far off, a cricket sings a few bars and I hear a deer snort down by the creek. Underneath it all is a constant, silent melody so soft that I can hear a leaf fall. I feel it. In silence I am part of the song. I take off my robe and bathe in the moonlight, turn a full circle and breathe a prayer of gratitude. KMW

A wonderful way to understand the moon cycle is to watch for the sliver of new moon, and each day go out when it first gets dark and notice where the moon is in the sky. Keep a record of it until it is full.

Summer nights are really nice, and the moon is a nice companion. As a child I wondered if the moon was really walking with me, which it appeared to be. I was disapointed when I found out that it really wasn't. I guess that was around the same time I found out about Santa Claus.

I hope you have a dark place around your house or a nearby park where you can go outside and see the night sky.

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