Sunday, April 08, 2012

In search of spring's Pink Moon

After reading about “the pink moon” on Facebook for several days, my daughter Annie and I decided to take a look for ourselves.

Each full moon has its own name and stories. The Pink Moon is April’s moon. Here’s how it’s described by the Farmer’s Almanac:

The name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and, among coastal tribes, the Full Fish Moon, because this is when the shad swam upstream to spawn.
Susan Tweit, a nature writer out of Salida, Colo., had mused about the pink moon for several days. Susan has a fine moon-viewing venue in the Colorado mountains. On Thursday night, she posted a gorgeous photo of the full moon. It wasn’t pink (at least to the camera’s eye) but it was big and bright, lighting up wispy high-altitude clouds and what looked like a jet’s contrail.

That night, I saw the same moon from my Cheyenne backyard. A fast-moving storm was rolling in. I called my wife Chris and daughter Annie to come out and take a look. But within minutes, the moon was hidden by clouds.

“What moon?” they said.

“It was here a minute ago.”

Friday night brought more commentary and another smashing photo from Susan. I watched the moon emerge from behind my neighbor’s house. Not pink but still glorious. Even though I was wearing a jacket, the cold wind drove me inside when all I really wanted to do was stand and stare.

Last night, I decided to view the moon’s rising. I found the time and Annie and I jumped in the car and drove down Dell Range to the Culver’s parking lot. It was after nine but people were still diving into those butter burgers. We found a strategic spot and watched the moon rise.

“It’s pink, I think,” I said.

“Looks more yellow,” said Annie.

I forgot to bring the camera but that probably was a good thing. Snapshots would not have done it justice. The moon’s big face looked down on us. That’s how Annie described it.

We sat in the lot and watched the moon slowly shed its pink and take on more of a yellowish cast. It began to brighten to white. We talked of space travel and some of the sci-fi movies we both like. 2001, A Space Odyssey;  Apollo 13;  Star Wars;  Star Trek, etc. I spoke about our country’s space program. My father – her grandfather – had been a part of the race to get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. I talked about Alan Shepard and Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn and how Gus Grissom and his crew died in that terrible launch pad fire. We talked about walking on the moon – what a thrill that must have been. It was thrilling enough to watch on black-and-white TV. And what a view that must have been, to see earth from a rock 238,000-some miles away!

Sitting there in the front of the Ford, we spoke of the vastness of space. So wonderful but yet so frightening. Annie said that, given the chance, she probably wouldn’t go into space. I had to agree. It frightened me too. I have been having trouble lately dealing with my own “inner space.” I have depression and lately have been struggling with it. If I can’t handle this tiny space I inhabit, how could I possibly face the vastness of space? I could easily be crushed by the universe!

But that won’t happen. The wonder and curiosity in Annie’s voice helps me realize that embracing the universe and its marvels only expands my inner self. Pink moons. Spiral nebulae. Black holes. Vast, empty stretches of space.

On this night in the Culver’s parking lot, we sit together, my college student daughter and I, gazing on the Pink Moon of April. She was born under another full moon, the Full Worm Moon of March (Farmer’s Almanac), the time when earthworms begin working the soil and the robins and the crows reappear and the snow begins to crust over as it thaws by day and freezes by night. Annie was born with a full head of dark hair with silver tips. I told her she had been kissed by the full moon. It was a pretty good story at the time and it seems as good an explanation as any.

On this Saturday during Easter weekend, moonlight shines down on us and the Cheyenne streetscape. We eventually head for home. I am feeling comfortable in my body for the first time in months. Perhaps the light of the Pink Moon carries some healing powers. But I suspect the brightening of my mood has more to do with what’s happening right here on earth, within the orbit of  my own loving family.


Liz R said...

Totally cool. You certainly have a wonderful way of putting the reader right there with you and Annie.

This is too good to just stay on your blog. I suggest sending it to the New Yorker. City folk would eat this up.

Susan J Tweit said...

Mike, Thanks for this beautiful window into your way of seeing the world! I especially loved your wide-ranging conversation with Annie and the moon, and the fact that you showed your vulnerabilities. Did you ever read Roger Housden's series Ten Poems to....? In one of them he talks about the word "wound" and how it comes from the French "blessure," related to blessing. His point is not that our wounds are blessings, but that they allow us to feel the world more richly and deeply, to be more fully human and give us the opportunity to be healers. I can't remember now all he said, but at the time it really struck a chord in me. At any rate, I loved this piece, and I agree with Liz. If you wanted to polish it up and didn't want to send it to the New Yorker, what about High Country News?