Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Solstice Moon

I got up at 6:15 this morning, a dark Northwest winter morning heading for the solstice, and the moonlight across the back deck was so bright, I thought the neighbors' porch light was on. I opened the door to look, I called my daughter so she could look, too. It was read-by moonlight, and if it hadn't been so cold, I might have taken the paper outside.

The last bright, bright patch of moonlight I enjoyed was late at night, camped in a high desert oasis last summer, light so bright that, yes, we woke the children, scampered around the sagebrush, watched, awed, as the moon rose above the cliffs that defined our narrow canyon. 

No, that wasn't it--we kept our son up later than he wanted, because we were watching the moon rise, and rise; finally the poor kid surrendered and just went to bed.

This morning it's cold, below freezing (and it doesn't freeze that often here) but entirely dark except for the moonlight, which makes it feel late, not early. Time to go back to bed, not brew a cup of tea. Time for the year to flip and the days to start getting longer again. 

Until the middle of last week, I was enjoying sunshine, warm breezes; some days, I was whining about the heat and humidity. It was getting dark around eight o'clock--dark quickly, no long twilight. We watched the sun rise over the Atlantic at 5:30 or so.

We're home now, straight into a cold snap. All week, even as the jet lag has faded, I 've had the feeling of "late" in the evening. It's four or five o'clock and I'll be feeling like the day must be pretty well over, whatever I'm likely to accomplish has been completed and isn't it time for bed? Even the days I wasn't asleep on my feet well before bedtime, it still felt late.

And this morning, it doesn't quite feel early, even though the first pre-sunrise glow is visible opposite the moon. The stars are still out. It's too cold to stand barefoot on the deck very long (which is why I run inside to write) but it feels like a kind of bounty, so much illumination at once: fresh, reflected, returning, unexpected.


  1. Welcome home! We had the same intensely bright moonlight here Sunday evening. We can see Narragansett Bay from our house, and the water was pitch black with a triangle of moonlight more sparkly than any Christmas tree.

    Oh, and it's not just jet lag that's making 4:30 feel late to you. Or if it is, I've gotten jet lagged without going anywhere.

  2. Moonlight on the bay sounds lovely! I wish I could see water from where I live (other than sloshing through the gutters when the winter rains resume). There's something fascinating about moonlight, it's a kind of bonus light.