We made plans. Set the alarm. Put our warm clothes out, got the binos. We would rise in the early, frigid dark and make our way along icy paths to the ridge above town, just down the street, where we would find a seat from which to witness the shadowy, silent spectacle of lunar eclipse – this special blue, super moon. My only dilemma, whether I’d have time and inclination to make coffee for the outing.
At 5 am the shadow had already started to creep across the face of the moon. The sky was clear, the moon low in the sky, but high enough that we could see it clearly from our bedroom. “Maybe we could watch from the front porch,” Marypat said. “Hell with that,” I said. “We can watch from bed!” Which we did. Pillows propped behind us, mugs of hot coffee in hand, binos at the ready, a luxurious perch from which to observe the slow-moving drama.
For a time a blue rim edged the moon. A bird flew across the lunar face, like a movie clip. Marypat caught the streak of shooting star. The moon lay bathed in orange glow, gray and cratered and serene. We talked about the ancients who watched such events, how they made sense of them, how they figured them out, what stories they might have told. Marypat thought it was the moon closing its eye, an opportunity to change, and when the eye opened again, you could be reborn, transformed, illuminated anew.
The full eclipse lasted and lasted. Eventually the moon slid to the edge of our window, and started to drop below the roofline of the neighbor’s house. Only then did we gird ourselves, take the dog, walk down toward the low ridge overlooking town. Lots of people were there – dogs, cameras on tripods, cars in the parking lot.
Finally, as daylight seeped into the scene, the edge of the moon gradually began to brighten. Then it flared silver, like the bright edge of new coin. Slowly, slowly, it became a fingernail crescent. The wind came up, a cold wind. I started back toward home, careful on the ice, watching the creep of cold light engulf the red face. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I could just make it out, huge through the trees, heading to the far side of the earth, half lit on its inexorable and mysterious journey.