With the Eyes of a Child: Ode to the Einsteins of the World
When I first stepped out the back door to view the lunar eclipse, the air was chilly but not yet cold. I had swaddled myself in a down jacket and a warm hat. I was warm.
The moon was huge, a startling luminous disk rising behind the trees. To stare right into it hurt my eyes, but I did it anyways, studying his familiar features, the ones I’ve imagined him to have over the long length of years that I’ve known him.
Yes, I do tend to anthropomorphize the moon. His ashy face always looks lonely to me, almost agonized, with it’s sideways gash of a mouth and huge distressed eyes beneath thick raised brows. Like a sad clown. So far away.
Over the course of several hours, I was in and out of the house, checking on him.
As the eclipse progressed, his bright white face turned red, like the cheeks of a flustered child, than took on a smokey orange and gray hue, like an ugly bruise.
It was interesting to observe how bright the stars appeared as the darkened moon retreated into the shadows. I couldn’t help but look upon the sky with wonder.
Why have the stars and the planets always captivated us?
And where do astrophysicists get their super powers from–the capability to do complicated calculations paired with the ability to imagine things the rest of us can’t even begin to comprehend, like string theory, parallel universes, and pretty much every space theory I’ve ever attempted to understand while watching Nova.
They seem to be living in their own parallel universe: They are children with wondering, open minds. They are adults doing the hard work. It’s pretty amazing, really. What a gift!
I kept the lights low in the house. That way I wouldn’t have to adjust my eyes so much each time I stepped out the back door. I was still in my coat and hat and now wrapped in a blanket from the waist down.
I stood outside in the cold, looking up, grateful for the oddity of such a clear, late-January night sky, in the northwest no less, until I became chilled and scurried inside to the refuge of the warm house again.
Out and in. In and out.
The child stepping out into the cold night in curiosity, the adult, stepping back into the warm house, responding to the more immediate needs for physical comfort. The cycles of my life revealing themselves in stark relief against the drama playing out in the silent heavens.
As we neared total eclipse, it was intriguing to see how the moon appeared to morph, his round cheeks emphasized by Earth’s shadow on his face, looking more spherical by the moment. The way an old face reveals it’s bony contours as life’s shadows fall inevitably over it.
To me, the moon looked more like a model planet, presented against a matte black backdrop in a planetarium, than something real and concrete. But here he was in the real sky outside my back door.
I wondered: is the dark side of the moon darker tonight?
Eventually, totality waned as the earth slowly released the moon from it’s shadow. Silver light began to seep around the edge of the moon again.
The fog that had been chilling the ground rose up and began to blur the sky view from sight.
Enough wonderment for one night. How much can an old lady stand?
I went reluctantly inside. I locked the back door. I returned my jacket and hat to the closet. I folded the soft blanket over the back of my chair, obscuring the heating pad that I keep there from public view.
I readied myself for bed.
Like most humans, I have spent countless hours contemplating the night sky. From the time I was a young child wishing on the first star for long forgotten requests, to the woman I find myself to be now, wrapped in down and an acrylic throw blanket, contemplating the universe.
I’m wishing on all the stars for nothing more than a safe landing, whenever, wherever, and however my ship sails, until it powers down that one last time.
And until then, for no end to the curiosity.
©2019 by Ilona Elliott