Saturday night, 6:30pm. We are just leaving the restaurant, headed home from our afternoon in the big city. Before entering the downtown canyon of buildings, I glimpse the gigantic crescent moon coming up over the horizon.
“Wow, would you look at that?” I said to Ken. “The moon is so beautiful tonight!”
Ken and I have a favorite way of traveling the 20 or so miles back home from the city. We like to drive through the really bad part of town; past the boarded up homes and buildings, past the numerous payday loan establishments and tacquerias and liquor stores and heavily gated stop ‘n shops. Occasionally we will spot a hooker and both our heads will whip around just in time to spot a skinny girl guzzling beer out of a paper sack while keeping her eye out for potential customers. If it’s really late, we see a lot of them.
I realize this probably makes us a couple of yuppie voyuers. What can I say? Ken’s from rural Kansas and he still has his country boy fascination with the big city. I don’t have any excuse except my own fascination with anything seedy.
By the time we crossed the main highway to the east side of the city, the moon had risen some more. The fact that it now looked somewhat different than it did 20 minutes earlier didn’t even register in my brain. We stopped to get a couple of soft drinks and continued making our way back home, chatting and listening to Prairie Home Companion – content and warm in the car, and just happy to be together.
Ten minutes later we head north, towards our little town and suddenly there it was smack in front of us – an almost full moon with what appeared to be a bite out of the top. It was like a giant child had taken a bite of a giant cookie.
Apparently, my brain simply could not process the sight I was seeing, because I blurt out, “Wait a minute…that moon was a crescent when it came up. Wasn’t it?”
“I think so.” Ken says, also puzzled.
“And the moon doesn’t change shape when it comes up, right?” – OK, before you think I’m a total idiot, let me just say that I know the moon does not usually change its shape when it rises in the sky, but I was still processing the information I was seeing. Rather quickly I realized what it was.
“Hey, I think we’re having a lunar eclipse” says girl genius.
Later, the 10pm newscast confirmed that, yes indeedy, we had us a gen-u-ine lunar eclipse. But it got me to thinking about ancient man and how they must have felt when they saw the moon or the sun do something unexpected. Because for a split second that night I felt totally confused, and even a little anxious. It was a strange, out of control feeling.
Makes me glad that, even though we haven’t figured out how to keep from having wars and killing each other, we at least know what an eclipse is.