Moments with the Moon

by Elizabeth deGraw Renna

I left work at just the right moment one late afternoon during the last week of November. It was just getting dark. The sun had set but there was still a bit of light in the western sky. As I pulled onto the first major street for my trek home, heading east, I realized that a full or almost-full moon was low on the horizon, just rising. It had competition from street lights, buildings, the traffic that I was trying to be aware of, but there it was. It had a subtle pale yet dark yellow color to it in that moment, the way the moon does when it is low in the sky, not yet white and glowing the way we usually see it.

I remember thinking that it was a perfect Halloween moon, surrounded by, when I first saw it, and ever so slightly covered by wispy horizontal clouds floating in the sky. It almost looked like it was rising out of a bank of clouds. I pulled over to the side of the road for a moment, just to be able to look at the moon without distraction and to think about how I would describe it, because I already knew I wanted to write about this moment. As I drove on, I had the good luck of a red light to stop me and I gazed some more at this amazing moon in the sky.

I lost sight of the moon briefly and then had to be extra careful on the freeway because the moon, amidst wispy and changing clouds, was creating a dramatic backdrop for the lit-up buildings of downtown. What a sight! But my view of the moon shifted again and disappeared as I continued driving and especially when I turned west. Turning north a few minutes later for the last three blocks of my daily trip home, the moon was to my right, its glow visible through the leafless trees in the park. But now it was obscured by a film of clouds, enough to mask the shape of the moon from my view but not enough to hide or dampen the glow. The clouds in the moon’s immediate vicinity were lit up and glowing, with dark sky and clouds all around it. A perfect moon moment!

As I pulled into my garage I was remembering my first memorable moment with the moon, the night I sort of fell in love with the moon and became a watcher and a noticer of the moon in the sky. I was a young teenager, already documenting some of my experiences in a diary-type notebook. My family was on a vacation trip and camping in an environment with lots of large rocks and shale-type walls and ledges of rock along the roadways. I think I remember pine trees; we may have been in the foothills of mountain country.

It was summer and warm enough that my sister and I had left the zippered door of our tent open to the night air. I woke up in the middle of the night and for some reason peered outside and then up into the sky. The moon was high in the sky, full and glowing white. There were many small clouds in the sky as well, none of them near the moon or covering it. The clouds were glowing white in the light of this full moon, on the side catching moonrays, and dark gray in color on their shadowed side. Our campsite was lit up as well, by the light of the moon. What a heart-lifting sight that was for me. I remember mentally thanking the moon, with a teenage girl’s emotionality and fancifulness and maybe romanticism. The moon became a friend that night and since then has provided many spontaneous moments of pleasure and appreciation.