There are numerous books about children greeting the moon, among them "Goodnight Moon" and "Hello, Moon!," volumes that calm and reassure kids as they fall asleep. The moon, as we know, has been there for a long time, not always visible but something we can count on. When it’s time to call it a day and drag in the bird feeders so nighttime marauders don’t have a chance to wreck them, I find it reassuring, like the toddler, to greet the moon, no matter what stage it’s in.
In the past few months, we have been blessed by closer approaches of our constant companion. We give these monthly appearances of our nearest celestial neighbor titles. Over time, people in tune with seasonal rhythms have created a variety of names that reflect these recurring events, including the Full Wolf Moon of a frigid January night, and the Corn Moon of September with its call to harvest. There are also the Super Moons that occasionally fill the evening sky as they make their close journeys by the Earth, and Black Moons that show up twice in one month.
Sitting on a lake shore by a campfire with loons crooning to one another or parking myself on a boat dock and dangling legs over the edge and gazing at a full moon provides a reflective and calming conclusion to any day. Beethoven nailed it with his “Moonlight Sonata.” Ear buds will have to do for musical accompaniment, a poor substitute for a baby grand, but they are much easier to carry around in a canoe or down to a dock.
On a few occasions, when the press of life has retreated for a time, I’ve been able to sail under a full moon. Getting the boat ready, always a task even in the best of conditions, is more difficult when attempting to do it by the light of the moon. Catching the breeze dockside has its own hazards when the rigging rings and rattles and the sails flap wildly, while attempting to maintain some semblance of balance in the hope of avoiding scrapes and dents to both body and boat. But then there’s the sailing.
The moon provides a lamp of sorts for navigation in an environment that is very difficult to get around in when it's pitch-black. There is more time to correct for directional missteps at 8 miles an hour than barreling down the water at 30 with a motor on the back. The moon forgives.
The early morning trudge to the street to get the paper sets the tone for the day. Saying hello to the moon comes in all seasons. It affords an opportunity to call the constellations by name as we inhale the first breaths of a new dawn. The moon, as it sets in the sky in the west on a cold winter’s morning under meandering clouds, takes on different moods from their racing shapes: here a mustache, there a wind-blown hairpiece standing on end, and now and then a passing smile on a chilly man-in-the-moon face.
So although some of us may be peeking over the edge of senior adulthood, we can still slip back to those times when we said, “Hello, and Good night, moon.” The light is always there.
Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and licensed psychologist. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.