Sunday, December 11, 2011

Musings: Eclipsed

I wasn't sure what I'd have to do to see yesterday's lunar eclipse, given that rain had fallen repeatedly in the night and clouds were stacked up over the mountains where the moon was bound to set.

I figured I could always head west, if need be, though the prospect of a wee hours sojourn to the other side, where the weather service was also predicting showers and clouds, wasn't especially appealing.

But as is so often the case, I didn't need to go anywhere looking for anything: it was all right here, just out my back door, when I went to check at about 3:15 a.m. The unplanned timing was perfect — again, as is so often the case — because right after I spotted her — big, bold, beautiful; brilliance dimmed by a mask of soft gold sliding slowly across her face — she disappeared behind the clouds. A minute more, and I would have missed her, would not have known I had a perfect view of the course she would take on her descent behind Makaleha.

So began my grateful witnessing of dance between moon and clouds as I started out standing, head back, then moved to sitting in a lawn chair, then finally stretched out on a towel laid atop the wet grass, a dog on either side, a blanket pulled over the three of us, and still Paele shivered. The wind sighed through the ironwoods, rustled palm fronds, and every now and then, the moon would suddenly appear in all her eclipsing glory, which was golden, and not the red I'd seen in previous obscurations. More often, she was a glowing apparition behind scurrying clouds, slipping in and out of view, adding magic, mystery, to the ethereal scene.

We laid there for a couple of hours, past the time when she was fully darkened, though never black, until the brightness began to glimmer around the edges, expand into a crescent, and then we went back into the warmth of indoors and after breakfast, to the beach, where I discovered that the watching mode still lingered, prompting me to stop and look at a flock of ruddy turnstones feeding in the grass, an egret collecting nesting materials.

And I marveled at how my senses had opened, in that short span of being transfixed by an eclipse, and I thought, how would I change if I began to spend more time lying out there, watching, in the cool, quiet darkness, before the cars and people start to stir? But gusting winds, and the three-quarters of an inch of rain that fell heavily in the night, kept me snug in bed, and glad for it, this morning.

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