Monday, November 16, 2009

New Moon and Old Gold

My friend Christina writes on Facebook, "Oh, fellow almanacky one, today is a new moon...good time to start a new project." And sure enough, there it is on the calendar, the black dot that always seems so counter-intuitive: how can the new moon be the one you can't see? Shouldn't it be the full one, the one that gets the over-the-campfire name (Harvest, Hunter's, Pink, Wolf, Laughing, Sneezy, Grumpy, Rutabaga, Cantaloupe, Calliope, Kaleidoscope, Constantine, okay, maybe not the last several, though it would be cool to name and design your own moon.) But of course that's how new things always start. The blank page, the empty canvas, the missing moon. You don't start with full.

The moon is sort of the secret muse of almanacs, anyway. Sponsor of the months, puller of the tides, chaperone of the crops and doyenne of the cycles that are the gears almanacs and calendars run on. The sun, too, of course, but the sun's like the owner or the CEO. When you run into the sun in the elevator you never know what to say. Whereas the moon, the moon's our neighbour. With a u. There's a Donald Barthelme story that starts: "See the moon? It likes us..." That moon is the moon I mean.

Mind you, I used to be afraid of the moon, as a kid. The bland pitiless face blazing coldly on the other side of the venetian blinds, daring me to look. But over time you realize the moon can't help its barren spotlit complexion. It wants to make friends. And you can draw on it. A face. A hare. Or maybe the Ragman and the Pooch: an old (timeless) bent-over guy with a bundle on his back on the left, reaching out to his companion, a seated poodle. KInd of like the Pieman and Simple Simon on the old Howard Johnson's logo. What do they talk about? Whatever you want. The moon is the ultimate sock puppet.

Even, or especially, the moon you can't see.

(postscript: Just checked on that Barthelme story, "See the Moon?" And it doesn't start "See the moon? It likes us." Unless I'm thinking of another story, it starts: "I know you think I'm wasting my time." And more tellingly: a few lines down it says: "See the moon? It hates us." Interesting. Speaking of how you can draw/write anything you want on the moon.)

Later that day...

Had to capture a few minutes of a ride along the Minuteman Bike Path in the last hour of the day before sunset. Riding through brilliant bands of sun and shadow through a colonnade of old gold, November's last guard before leavetaking. There is something touchingly royal about November after it passes the midpoint. The proud sadness of history, a history only going back about seven months in the annals of the leaves, but still museum-worthy, or troubadour-worthy, a few birds left to tell the tale. Makes you want to say, goodbye, old gold as you say hello, unilluminated moon.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, Hal. And it puts me in mind of Tommaso Landolfi's 'Werewolf'. The new moon is the werewolf's friend, or at least less his enemy than the full moon.